• daveintheuk

    Fail to see any benefit to users here – less results from less sites; it is becoming clear that the bean counters are taking over from the academics at Google.

    More room for adverts, Wikipedia’s content (sorry, Knowledge), shopping results, credit card comparison adverts, etc etc.

  • http://twitter.com/dr_pete Dr. Peter J. Meyers

    Just to follow up – my analysis came from the Mozcast data set, which is a hand-selected set of 1,000 queries and Top 10 SERPs (~10,000 URLs), measured every 24 hours. We’re trying to keep the data tightly controlled and consistent, but are looking to scale up by at least a factor of ten in the next few months (probably 10K or 25K). For now, I’m having fun with all of these meta-analyses :)

  • http://twitter.com/i_praveensharma Praveen Sharma

    Is it Google’s move to make more space for PPC ads and earn more money?

    As I can’t see anything which benefit users from this move, which Google claims all the time that they are working for user’s experience.

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1035239524 Mark E. Anderson

    I’ve noticed one of our competitors completely dominating entire pages of Google search engine results. This person has two different domains with the same product, between the two sites, the links to his sites fill two entire pages of results. How can this monopoly be good for the searcher or the user experience? 

  • http://twitter.com/sharithurow sharithurow


    I see the benefit. If the query is clearly navigational, then searchers don’t look (or click) very far into SERPs. That’s been a known fact for well over 5 years. 

    If the query is a combination informational/navigational, again I see the benefit. SEOs need to stop injecting their personal opinions onto web searchers. Their intent isn’t always the same as our personal opinions.

    Danny, I’m reasonably sure Google is working on the clustering filter(s). How else is any search engine supposed to test SERP layout (good and bad and in between) without putting them out there?

  • http://twitter.com/dr_pete Dr. Peter J. Meyers

    I can see a search usability argument for the 7-result pages, but I’m finding it hard to justify the drop in domain diversity, especially after expanded site-links rolled out. Is the average user helped by a Page-1 SERP that’s entirely one domain/brand?

    Admittedly, I suspect the decline in domain diversity (as evidenced by a sharp drop after Penguin) isn’t fully intentional – it may be a side-effect of other algorithm changes. The 7-result SERP is clearly intentional.

  • http://twitter.com/tomblue tomblue

    I noticed the “more from the same domain” problem awhile ago and then I thought it improved, but now it is back again.  One time I saw linkedin listed 12 times in a row.  Wow!  Not sure why they do this, but I had thoughts that it might limit their content farm exposure which they got so harassed about before. 

  • http://twitter.com/nelsond25 Nelson D

     Usability? I’ll buy that when Google doesn’t put 25 ads, Youtube videos,
    G+ posts, Google news, Google images and everything else to drown even
    those 7 measly pages.

    This is to increase the clicks on ads, already up 35% from panda and 42%
    from penguin. Google has already done the Products as pay-per-play and
    since Panda is doing almost all commercial SERPs the same, but
    stealthily (remember, it’s not legal.)

    So by having one site take over the SERPs, users can find diversity in
    ads and click there. Google has a vested ineterest in maiign ads more
    relevant than content.

    Sorry to ruin your day Danny, I know you’re avoiding anything bad for Google.

  • http://www.rimmkaufman.com/ George Michie

    I agree with Shari, if someone is searching for Search Engine Land, why should Google show them results for Search Engine Watch or Search Engine Journal?  How does that “diversity” respond to the user’s search?

    Totally agree that on competitive search phrases fewer options is not better, but the ads do present users diversity of choice in those cases.

  • Peter Kern

    Hahaha I didn’t expect that coming. Google completely lost it. They are so popular search engine so far because of their simplicity but now they are trying to be clever. Probably too many people work in Google and too much money they want to get. With all rubbish tools they came up with now they want to destroy the strongest one: organic search engine! With the new version of analytics (rubbish) and webmaster tools the whole thing is starting to be like a circus. Just show the best results in your search engine don’t try to be to clever!

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    I didn’t say anything about usability, so I’m not sure why you’re addressing that aspect in a comment that seems pointed to me.

    Also, I made a reference in the article to my “25 Things I Hate About Google” post and say I don’t like the clustering, and you come away with “I know you’re avoiding anything bad for Google?”

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Thanks, will get that added shortly!

  • http://twitter.com/dr_pete Dr. Peter J. Meyers

    Where I worry is with “dominant intent” interpretations. Take “Apple”, for example. Yes, most internet searchers mean the company, but some percentage mean Apple Vacations or just plain, old apples. Because the majority mean Apple Computers, does that mean that they should dominate Page 1? I can’t help but feel that Google has pushed the balance too far in the wrong direction.

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan

    Well, if someone is searching for McDonald’s, this type of change does an excellent job of further insuring you won’t come across an anti-McDonald’s site.

    In the past, Google has talked about results reflecting the opinion of the web. But if you’re a big brand, especially a savvy one, having only 7 results increases the odds you can dominate for your own name and push negative stuff out.

    It’s not guaranteed (ask Rick Santorum). This past post explains more:http://searchengineland.com/should-rick-santorums-google-problem-be-fixed-93570

    But that’s why there’s also a diversity argument.

  • http://www.ninebyblue.com Vanessa Fox

    If you’re searching for a brand, you might also be looking for reviews about that brand, other places to buy things made by that brand…

    And if I’m searching for brand + item, I may indeed want to see other choices than the brand itself.

  • http://www.rimmkaufman.com/ George Michie

    I can see those arguments.  Clearly Google can’t have much interest in not serving results that please consumers, so I think they’d test to find the mix that is most satisfying.  I’m sure some will argue that Google is doing this as a favor to its big advertisers to squash negative press, etc, but the advertisers really don’t need to be cajoled.  Brands buy ads because they work.  Google poking them in the eye won’t prevent Brands from buying ads because doing so would be biting off their nose to spite their face.

    I would bet that this is driven more buy user behavior than by executive fiat.  Google serves the links people interact with most.

    The auto complete suggestions already help folks find the reviews or complaint searches that might draw attention.

    Thinning out the organic diversity on competitive commercial searches could certainly be a Machiavellian move to make the ads more attractive, but on primarily navigational searches it’s just hard to see how Google would benefit by going against user interests.

  • robthespy

    Google seems to be making the web smaller and smaller every day.

  • http://twitter.com/sharithurow sharithurow

    Hi again-

    Hmmm…my 2 cents…maybe some of you should read more scholarly works published by Yahoo, Bing, Google, and some of the universities both inside and outside the US. What you are seeing as illogical for navigational intent is actually completely logical based on pretty much everything I’ve read about this topic for over 5 years. 

    My usability tests on SERPs have confirmed what I’ve read: searchers with clear navigational intent don’t look (or click) too far down the page. Query reformulation or refinement is quite common if a navigational query doesn’t deliver the most relevant results at the top of the SERP. This is true on desktops, tablets, and mobile/cell phones. I (and my company staff) observe a lot of navigational queries on cell phones.

    Instead of immediately dissing Google (or any search engine), my approach is to reproduce the tests that they do and compare their results with my results. This is one instance (navigational intent) where the Googlers’, Bing-a-lings’, and Yahoos’ conclusions match my own. 

  • http://twitter.com/todayztrendz David Smith

    You know, I miss the old Google (at least, when it comes to commercial searches) – a simple layout, diverse results.  KISS Principle. 

    Now it’s a mess of ads, irrelevant youtube video listings, clusters, etc.  Commercial pressures have forced Google to compromise on the actual usefulness of their search facilities.  

  • http://twitter.com/dr_pete Dr. Peter J. Meyers

    You’re assuming that the 7-result SERPs are primarily navigational. While many are branded queries, I’m seeing quite a few that aren’t branded or navigational. For example (from my post): a search for “krill” is yielding 7 results (#1 is Wikipedia). Maybe Google will adjust that over time, granted, but it seems to me, without actual data as to the nature of the queries in question, that you’re fighting speculation with speculation.

  • daveintheuk

    I wish Google would have the balls to offer a “websites only” option – but I guess they know that even if it was opt in and hidden away people would find it, use it and love it.

    If somebody could build a Google of 5 years ago and resist being so damn greedy they’d do well (perhaps not making $9 billion per quarter – but hey, who needs *that* much…)

  • http://www.kevin-pike.com Kevin Pike

    Two weeks ago Google had some strange page 3 rankings for non-branded keyword, but I thought it was getting better. Perhaps I was wrong and things are just bubbling to the top now. 

    On the other hand, I think my reputation management campaigns just got easier.

  • Alan

    This is just a Grab for more revenue. If 9 out of the 10 sites that used to rank for a term are no longer on the front page, how do they get back there? Adwords! Sure the dominant site won’t be using Adwords but the other 9 are forced to! Just another iteration in the evolution from “Google Search Engine” to “Google Ad Engine”. In the not to distant future we won’t need Searchengineland.com  any more! Why bother reading blogs like this when the only real advice they will be able to give 90% of users is buy adwords?

  • Alan

    Wouldn’t be hard to build a Google of 5 years ago. You could even use their API initially . Just need someone with pockets deep enough to not put ads on the site! Imagine that someone offering a Google search with no ads?

  • Alan

    I am pretty sure you have seen the controversial article at seroundtable.com Danny. Have you noticed that anyone who even remotely looks like they are standing up for Google (even if they are not) gets down voted into oblivion? 
     If there was a down vote button here I bet Shari would have set a record for down votes. This article has a real possibility of heading down that track. Very few in the SEO community trust Google or Matt Cutts any more. We want some hard questions asked of Matt and Google and those questions just aren’t being asked by the people who have access to them. The SEO community is looking for a leader in this and you are probably best suited to be the person who puts Google and Matt over a barrel. however if you choose not to ask the questions, then I guess it will be up to someone else to lead us.

  • daveintheuk

    It doesn’t have to be without ads, the adverts are fine (although a more ethical company may choose to make the distinction between adverts above the organic results much clearer)… it is all the other stuff it would be nice to get rid of… especially Knowledge Graph, which contains no knowledge just regurgitated data – whilst pushing sites made by people who are knowledgeable and passionate off the screen.

  • http://www.tylerherrick.com Tyler Herrick

    That’s a good thing, since they literally can’t crawl the ever-expanding web fast enough. I don’t need to know a hundred sites that can provide me with a definition for a term, how about instead one definition crowd-sourced from a hundred sites?

  • http://www.tylerherrick.com Tyler Herrick

    So you’ve been using Google because it’s simple, not because it returns the most relevant/accurate results?

    Rubbish tools? Analytics? WMT? Are you kidding me?

    How do you suppose they show the best result, without “knowing” what the user is intending to find?
    Their solution is to provide a couple top results from many categories (Paid Ads, Images, News, Video, Blogs, etc) to try and better answer your intended query.

    Saying things like “don’t be clever” is like saying, “don’t run a smart business, you should run it poorly instead.”

  • Alan

    I hate being offensive, but I just can’t help it. Shari you are completely correct your comment is worth about 2 cents. Maybe less! Google is giving the user less choice. Less choice means less competition, less competition means bad for users. It doesn’t have to be as complicated as your pseudo scientific opinion is making it out to be.

    Less choice and competition is great in communist countries. However Google generally lives in a world of free enterprise and capitalism. Now capitalism has a lot less rules than communism, but one rule that is very important is “free choice” and Google is slowly and with malign intention giving people less and less choice! If we push this current strategy out to its inevitable end users of Google will be leaving Google.com through and ad 100% of the time. Is that what you really want? Is that what anyone really wants?

  • http://www.tylerherrick.com Tyler Herrick

    If I ran a business as popular as Google and somehow were able to get to the scale they’re at without the capital from Ads, I’m pretty sure any company would take advantage of an opportunity to monetize their product if they knew it could bring in an additional 36 BILLION in revenue. If ad’s are truly such an inconvenience, get an ad-blocker extension so you don’t have to see them. 

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_J6AB7B7E2MLHHWGL4SWKY5UEFM bizhacks.com

     Is google for real? I don’t like them but now I feel sorry for them, no matter how many meeting they have to decide about moves like that, they are getting worst and worst with every move. They really think that the last 3 positions will now become paid inclusion customers? The google shopping shut down the opportunities for thousands of merchants, but it really made it impossible for millions of end users to find products giving them no choice but to go to bing, yahoo, ebay, amazon and comparison shopping engines.
    Cutting the links from 10 to 7 is just a huge issue for end users, is not only affecting content sites and merchants, it makes it impossible to find real relevant links for people, I search for thing and see nothing for Ads or irrelevant push paid inclusions. Note to google: this is 2012, people are beyond search, people go directly to the source 70% of the time, they go to content sites to learn and search and real shopping sites to make a purchase, google does not provide any of these anymore.

  • robthespy

    I see your point. However, fewer sources combined with personalized results and Google’s own content leaves me feeling like I’m missing out on some great content.

    Personally, i think the results have been horrible for months now. I find myself looking at Adwords ads a whole lot more. ;)

  • robthespy

    Your ‘usability tests’…prove people don’t “look too far down on a page?”

    Sounds pretty clear cut. I guess Google has been reading the same sources you have been for the past 5 years. ;)

  • http://www.tylerherrick.com Tyler Herrick

    Well it’s not really fewer sources is it? They’re still *looking* at the same number of sites on the internet; it’s just if they have high-confidence in their understanding of the intent of your query, they will show the most likely result(s). If the top 5 results happen to be from the same domain, maybe they truly are the *best* results for the query, and not necessarily because they’re from the same domain.

    I personally never find myself going to page 2, I typically find what I’m searching within the top 5 positions I’d say. If I don’t find it within those 5 spots, I refine my query.

    The great thing about Google is that they give us a choice in some of the results, being able to set your location and allowing us to enable/disable personalization right from the SERP; which lets us escape the “filter-bubble”.

  • http://www.tylerherrick.com Tyler Herrick

    You defeat your own argument by saying “people are beyond search”. Exactly true, and search has to evolve. I find it funny that you’re mad at Google for monetizing Shopping, and then you say go to sites like eBay or Amazon; where they both take cuts of whatever is being sold (loosely, a transactional fee). Would you rather the search engine be back in the days where people keyword-stuffed meta keywords tag? Search evolves. How about Google’s commitment to helping local business owners be found by introducing the Map pack (“places”, “g+ local pages”), even when sites like Walmart, eBay, Amazon, etc… clearly have the advantage in terms of resources and budget? Search evolves. It is a logical assumption that a vast majority of their enhancements to their SERP’s are data-driven and not some whimsical approach. There’s a video of one their meetings where they were analyzing micro-performance gains from spell-checking replacement within queries, it’s a great video. I think that people have learned *how* to search more effectively in the past few years, and because of that people can find the answers to their queries more accurately as the search engines are beginning to semantically *understand* what your site is about.

  • Peter Kern

    Of course results should be relevant. You don’t understand my point. Google used to be simple because this was what people expected to be… Search engine where they can quickly search for something. Now it starts to look like christmas tree with some stupid ideas like only 7 results on the first page, repeated websites all over the places, when you type ‘SEO’ there is something called ‘People related to SEO’ WTF? If I want to look for people related to SEO I will type it ‘people related to SEO’. It seems they want advertise Matt Cutt for some reason. New analytics is rubbish and it is not only my opinion… WMT is a great tool for Google to control and spy naive people.

  • Peter Kern

    So you are saying…. google knows better what user wanted to search than himself?

    Seriously how top 5 results from the same domain name could be better than showing variety of options? I don’t think you would like only 1 newspaper or only 1 TV in your country to choose from, do you?

  • http://searchengineland.com/ Danny Sullivan
  • rmonitor

    It is probably a group of factors influencing this change. While showing ads more prominently is likely to be one of those, the different devices and their internal analysis of user data will also be. They will most likely try and cover for all these as they have to keep both users and shareholders happy but not SEOs. SEO just got more difficult.

  • http://www.tylerherrick.com Tyler Herrick

    How is Google giving users less and less choice? It seems to be Google is completely about freewill. Google believes in open source and data liberation. They even are going so far as to completely redesign *all* of Google to include user personalization; because they know one algorithm doesn’t apply to every person. They use your search trends to serve you better results AND give you an option to one-click pop the filter-bubble. They created an OS and gave it away for free, seems like they wanted people to innovate for themselves so they’re not constrained to a single system (*cough* iOS *cough*).

    Google has plenty of competition, it’s just that the majority of people LIKE and continue to use Google.

  • Peter Kern

    Do you work for google or you just in love with them? Yes yes google is so worried about every person that they even hacked to their wirelesses while doing street view to make sure they will present correct data! haha Wake up man! It is all about control and money!

  • http://pandaseo.co.uk/ Mark

    Haven’t seen any change to number of lisitngs in the UK. I am sure they made the paid ads harder to differentiate over the weekend though

  • Alan

    HI Danny here is the article, it is the comments you want to read
    http://www.seroundtable.com/google-penguin-warning-15577.html Even Matt entered the fray but he also got voted down a lot http://www.seroundtable.com/google-penguin-warning-15577.html#comment-621250469. Not that it matters in the grand scheme of things. The questions you linked to are firmish but not rock hard Danny. We want questions that show you are on our side. I assume you are on our side but we want to see you going to bat for us. You are a leader in our industry and our industry is under attack, whether you want to believe it or not. Want examples of hard questions? Hi Matt, what is your personal stake in Google? as in how many shares do you personally own? Then the question is — how the hell are we able to trust anything you say? When you own such a large stake in Google? Is that why every update seems to push publishers towards adwords? A 61% increase in profit
    http://content.usatoday.com/communities/technologylive/post/2012/04/google-profit-up-61-stock-split/1#.UDNYDt3iY3g since you started down this path of making the SERPS into rubbish and a share split? any comment Matt? Got rid of Host crowding hey? So driving 90% of people that used to on the front page into having to use adwords, what affect did that have on Googles profit?

    See they are not hard questions to ask.. Watch I will show you.. Danny what is your personal stake in Google? How many shares do you own? Very easy to ask.. Very hard or very easy to answer.. depending on your position of course. We SEO’s are feeling attacked and we want someone to stand up for us. It probably should be you.

  • http://techpp.com Raju

    Danny, the fifth image in the article has some issues. You are assuming pgsapp.com & techpp.com are same site, but they aren’t, not even related. If you remember, I had tweeted you the screenshot for the very same keyword 3 days back. But at that time Google was showing pgsapp for the top 8 search results. (Ref: https://twitter.com/rajupp/status/237040304526589953/photo/1/large). They seem to have partially fixed it now.

  • http://www.winsonyeung.org/ Winson Yeung

    Haven’t seen the new 7 Google on my site here. Google is definitely giving more and more weight to a domain which has brand. But it’s ridiculously to have 7 result all from the same domain. I hope their main competitor AMAZON will make them rethink their strategy to provide a better results for user.

  • robthespy

    Danny, are you a journalist or an advocate for SE professionals?

  • http://www.webgel.co.uk/what-we-do/web-design-somerset/ Web Design Somerset

    Google has become ludicrous. He forgets his own lesson of marketing that he gives to webmasters. Now, Google showing many results from a single site. For example, a keyword Car Stereos, you can observe 30-40 results from a same site out of 100 positions. I think people want multiple results from different sites, they are not interested in same site results. In opinion, Google soon will lose his overall market share.

  • http://twitter.com/LChen_ Liang Chen

    Come on guys, show some respect for the guy who has been working hard to provoke Google for past years.

    Argue your case, but no personal attack please.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_J6AB7B7E2MLHHWGL4SWKY5UEFM bizhacks.com

    Hello Tyler, yes, it may sound as I contradict myself but is the way it works when you are dealing with a company that contradicts itself all the time. Why hurt the people who work so hard to feed you with content that you will use to make a profit? Shopping sites are not tricking merchants, everyone knows they are fee based and people go there just for one specific reason, google is penalizing and charging a toll fee to sites that have nothing to do with ecommerce. In any case, as you mentioned, people are getting smart at finding things and google is not the most important source of content, as a matter of fact, they only manage other people’s content. Google is getting obsolete, spreading way too thin and becoming the enemy of most webmasters, they said that all is against spam but spam continues, they have nothing else to do but to overcome the new panda or penguin and the rest of us suffers, investing, wasting time and being punished.

  • atatata

    England is not a navigational query. Google clearly doing something wrong here.