What if Redcliffe Parade suddenly became 30% shorter?

Much was made of the disruption to business during the roadworks and renewal of Redcliffe Parade last year and early 2012. Thankfully the front strip of the CBD looks great now and is enjoyed by many of us locals on any given weekend.

But what if the Moreton Bay Regional Council shortened the available frontage for shops along Redcliffe Parade by 30%.
Imagine the reaction.

Question: How many organic search results are there on the first page of Google?

Most people would say 10.

Well check this out…

This is a quick sample of searches conducted just before writing this. Next to the search term is the number of search results listed on the first page of Google.
(Specific Google snippets such as ‘News’ and map listings are not included in the count. Paid Google Adwords listings are also not included)

“brisbane broncos” – 10 results
“brisbane city council” – 7 results
“BHP” – 7 results
“zelows” – 7 results
“oaks mon komo” – 10 results
“wotif” – 7 results
“redcliffe dolphins” – 7 results
“moreton bay whale season” – 10 results
“moreton island” – 10 results
“moreton island ferry” – 10 results
“moreton bay whale watching” – 7 results

Why 7 results and not the normal 10 results on the first page?
How widespread is this?

The graph below shows that this change has kicked in this month (Aug 2012) and gives an idea as to the impact.

 

Source: SEOmoz.com

 

Two very good articles that cover the changes are:
http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2012/08/21/new-google-serp
http://www.seomoz.org/blog/serp-crowding-shrinkage-its-not-your-imagination

I’ll summarise most of the main points here:

  • 7 pack results are most likely to be seen on branded searches – ie. for a company or organisation. The thinking here is that these are navigational searches and the majority of the click throughs are for the ‘brand’s website. An example would be ‘redcliffe dolphins‘ searches.  People might know that the website is redcliffedolphins.com.au but its easier to google ‘redcliffe dolphins’ and click on the first search result in many cases.
  • 7 pack is most likely to occur when the first search result includes search snippets – these are the nested links to deeper pages on the first results’s website. Try a google search for ‘morgans seafood‘ to see these nested links. (7 search results seen here too)
  • Sites that would normally rank in positions 8,9 and 10 and still get a number of clicks will be bumped to the second page and suffer a drop in traffic.
  • This may force more companies into paid search advertising to be positioned on the first page ie Google Adwords.
  • ^^ possible revenue raising move by Google
  • When combined with recent SEO algorithm tweaks and cleanups, this starts to paint a future where paid online advertising is the norm.
  • Jury is out on this one but it is possible that exact matched domain names (eg. redcliffepainter.com.au) might be more valuable in the short term as they may appear to be a branded search as if looking for a company name.
  • Value/worth of being towards the top of the search results just went up – expect to pay more for quality SEO too.

Try some searches of your own and let me know the results in the comments below.

Do you get 10 or 7 or something else?

Things are going to get a lot more interesting in the next few weeks. Google’s Matt Cutts recently telegraphed the next round of updates to Google’s algorithm – this is something Google almost never talks about. He indicated that they would be “jarring and jolting” for webmasters and SEOs. Fun times :-)