It seems that the fashion for the last few weeks for people to be concerned about is google promoting its own properties manually in the SERPs. Now this may or may not be true. But I am inclined to veer on the NOT TRUE side of the argument.
Well how many people have just looked at the SERPs highlighted that Google is manipulating and ran SEO audits on them? Chances are that those properties are riding on google’s own authority as well of instantly acquired links when the properties go live. Sebastian (as usual!) really hits the nail on the head:
If a Google property ranks on Google’s SERPs at all, blame the tech bloggers, webmasters and SEOs of this planet for abusing their anchor text and link love, because Google doesn’t tweak its own pages for SEO purposes. Also, hand jobs belong to adult entertainment and this industry is responsible for its content. Google just crawls and indexes their output, but prevents mere mortals from viewing hand jobs by applying sensible default values for the &safe-parameter.
I am no Danny Sullivan, but if you really want to read a well balanced piece of coverage, then you need to read this article.
It’s Not All Rosy Though
My issue is the One Box. The one box is not a property that is in fact seen as a “google” property, rather as quick answers for users from G’s Database. This is definitely artificially inflated to be the first result – as you can’t really link out to it, hence can’t be influenced by anyone BUT google. Since the onset of these quick, bite sized results, I have stopped using websites for 10 things, and I am guessing all the top ranking sites have lost out on an insane amount of traffic over the years simply because of googles intervention to deliver results beyond the SERPs.
1. Time. Sometimes I would like to know the time, right now (maybe my computer or phone doesn’t have the right time, or whatever). Simply ask: “Time”. Want to know the time in Melbourne? Ask for “Time Melbourne”. Guess who would lose out on all that nice traffic and ad impressions over time (excuse the pun)?
2. Currency Conversion. I used to use currency conversion sites a lot, but google lets you do that straight off the search as well:
3. Cinema Times. Why would I visit a third party site if google shows me the Movie times in my local area?
4. Calculator. I misplace my calculator often – before, I would just got to an online calculator for quick sums instead of using excel etc. But now:
5. Postcode Search: Don’t know what a postcode is for? Drop it into google – gives you a map and the local tube station.
6. Stock Quotes. Want to know the stock quote of a company? Type it in:
7. Weather Forecasts: Want to know the Weather somewhere? I used to go to the Met for weather, or to a similar international site for weather info internationally, but now:
8. Flights and Tickets. Not a really well known search result, but did you know you can compare tickets and buy them from the one box results? Isnt out in the UK yet, but how long till it is? What will happen to all the flight comparison sites?
9. Food / Restaurant Search. A large number of sites used to fight for organic listings for types of food, food+area names etc. The Google Local results have displaced most of these. We could argue that these aren’t google properties – but really?
10. Product Search. How many comparison sites have been hit with google artificially inserting its Google base products into the SERPs?
11. Celebrity Info. Did you know you can get a large number of celebrity details using the one box? (however, as Malcolm points out, that data aint great…)
12. Public Data – Want to know the population of a country? Their rate of unemployment? There is a One box Search Result for that.
13. Need a Definition? Guess who gives you a quick result?
To be honest there are plenty more, and in development. Most of these are taking away traffic share from sites that have spent a lot of time and effort capturing these long tail queries.
Is google promoting its own properties in this sense? Yes.
Is it bad for users? No.
Is it bad for sit owners / publishers? Probably.
As a side note, google is ALSO making somewhat an unfair use of it paid search offering in competitive industries:
When I first noticed this search (way back when it wasn’t being promoted via PPC this way), I wrote that it spells the end of Credit Card Affiliates over time. more industries are to come. What should you as a publisher do? Probably run…
Rishi Lakhani is an independent Online Marketing Consultant specialising in SEO, PPC, Affiliate Marketing and Social Media. Explicitly.Me is his Blog. Google Profile