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Google’s latest SERP Update

If you conducted a search yesterday morning on Google you would have been presented with an interesting change to their search engine result page.  A brand search, such as the below for Nike, results in what could be an example of what Google are currently testing before a full roll out.

On the right hand side of the SERP you will find a new section of ‘related’ results that are made up as part of Google’s Knowledge Graph under the heading ‘People also search for’. These are being pulled in by Google, presumably based upon relevance to the brand searched for. In this instance, a search for Nike has drawn in results for similar brands, Adidas, Puma and New Balance. Clicking through these links takes the user through to a further results page for that brand; and once you get to this page there are further related brands.

Nike SERP

Qantas SERP

This update to Google’s search result page has sparked debate among search marketers. How are these related results controlled? At the moment the change is only being tested on Google.com but like most updates, is more than likely follow suit and be rolled out quite quickly in the UK.

While Google may argue that the change is enhancing the user experience by encouraging a fuller and wider scope to their search, if this development is released, brands are likely to call for its removal. An argument that a decrease in traffic flow to a brand as users will be diverted to related links is something we can expect pending its release. Although this may prove to be balanced in terms of clicks lost to competitors vs clicks gained from competitors.

It is likely that as the visible test isn’t restricted to users, the changes will be rolled out soon, introducing the new feature. One of the main impacts predicted from the update is the potential for click leakage across both PPC and organic searches. This has the potential to impact click through rates and consequentially the quality score for PPC and a slight increase in cost per clicks. The increase in click leakage is likely to also create a drive in brand search impressions.

As a result of these changes, brands may try to pull away from the new related links by increasing in advertising via PPC. This could been seen as the targeted result for Google. Set within this change could be the hope that brands will be encouraged to advertise more via PPC, which will of course result in an increase in income for Google.

While the effect to traffic is difficult to predict, the likely impact of the changes will largely result in more searches, more clicks and slightly higher CPCs. All of which will create more revenue for our trusted friends at Google through brand activity. For some this change will seem to have come at a coincidental time considering its timely arrival shortly after the no referral data and SEM reporting update on Adwords. Whichever way you and your brand see the changes, it looks as if Google may be the ones to benefit.