Google showing 20 results per page – Profit Search, SEO Pacification or Behaviourial Remediation

by Peter Young on September 6, 2010 · 1 comment

There was an interesting conversation that came to light during one of the SEO Dojo conversations during the early part of Saturday morning over at the Think Vis conference in Leeds. Andy Beard was talking about how he was being shown 20 results rather than 10, something it would appear that Barry Schwartz over at Search Engine Land is seeing as well.

I would highly recommend reading Andy’s post in particularly as it very graphically highlights the scale of the current test, both on traditional search results and those results which have been the changed as a result of the recent ‘Pseudo Site Search updates’.

Source: Andy Beard

Its interesting that Google should be rolling out such a test, one of many which have been rolling out during recent weeks. Further to this, the continuing cannabalisation of traditional organic real estate by blended search and premium paid search inventory makes this even a more interesting development particularly if you take some points into consideration (from 2007 Comscore report – probably something more recent about)

  • The average performs 84 searches per month
  • The average number of search results pages per search is 1.33 (Down from 1.40 a year earlier
  • Further to this – other studies have highlighted the considerable drop off as you move further down the page – in particular between page fold and beneath.
  • The net result is that people would rather refine a query than look deeper into the results

Now take these latest changes into account. Google now offers a longer resultset to users. This is likely to have a number of impacts

  • SEO’s have a greater number of premium (first page) results to go for, this may pacify SEO’s short term particularly given recent changes to the results
  • People less likely to go onto second page
  • The number of searches could go either way, as even in the current climate, people dont really like to scroll – however that said the greater number of results may encourage them to do so
  • Paid search real estate is significantly increased beyond the current 8 or so adverts which are displayed.

My personal feel is that this has probably as much to do with the final point as it does the three above. Lets face it, Google is a commercial entity, no matter what they say about ‘Do no evil’ etc – and has one function and that is to make a profit. Much of the recent changes in particular the ‘Premium Sponsored Listings‘  are aimed at making more and more money – let alone the plans they have for expansion – ie real estate, social media and in all likelihood travel.

More space == More inventory == More opportunity for sales == More Revenue. Its not a difficult equation.

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