Changes to Google Search Results Pages and Other Features

Hi, I’m Paul Steinbrueck and welcome to OurChurch.Com’s monthly SEO Update for March 2016, keeping you up to date on what’s happening in the world of search and how it affects you.

This month we’ve got big news about changes to Google’s search results pages and mobile location marketing, plus we say goodbye to a classic search engine feature.

Let’s get to this month’s search news…

1) Google Makes Major Changes to its Search Results Pages

The big news this past month is Google has removed all the ads from the right side of the search results pages. Did you notice?

One of the trends we’ve reported in recent years is search engines using more and more space on the search results pages for ads leaving less results for organic search results. So, why did Google get rid of the entire right column of ads?

Turns out they didn’t get many clicks. One source reports only 85.4% of all ad clicks are made on ads above the organic search results. That means only 14.6% of clicks were made on the ads on the right side and the bottom of the page. If you consider that more than half of all searches are done on mobile devices that don’t show a right sidebar, we’re talking about less than 7% of all ad clicks and probably closer to 5%

But you didn’t expect Google to just throw away 5-7% of their ad revenue, right?

No, at the same time they removed the ads from the right side, they also added a 4th ad to the top of the search results, which will probably result in a net gain in ad clicks.

Of course, if there’s a net gain in ad clicks, guess where there will be a net loss… on the organic search results. Now if you’re website is #1 in Google you’re really #5, after 4 ads.

While this is another blow for organic search listings, it also further increases the importance of SEO and good search rankings as sites are competing for even fewer clicks on organic search listings.

2) Google Getting “Near Me”

More of us are doing more searches for local things. And as a result, search engines like Google are investing a lot to improve mobile and location marketing.

Google is getting better at determining where we’re located when searching both when we’re using a mobile device and a desktop computer. Google is also getting better at determining which keywords imply we are looking for something “near me.”

Google has taken another step in that direction by offering auto-complete search suggestions that include “near me.”

All of this should help us find what we’re looking for quicker and easier. And if your website is for a local church, school, non-profit or business, it increases the importance of having local listings and making sure the information in them is accurate.

3) Bye Bye Google PageRank

When Google burst onto the search seen in the late 90s, it’s PageRank concept was an innovative step forward. While the first Internet search engines ordered search results alphabetically or in some other arbitrary order. Google used it’s PageRank formula to rank websites in terms of their importance, which Google determine by the number and quality of links.

Google even went so far as to show you the PageRank of a page in its toolbar, which motivated millions of website owners to try to increase their PageRank, and a whole industry of link buying and selling based on PageRank.

Fast forward a couple of decades and Google has come to realize maybe that wasn’t such a good idea. Recently Google announced it will be removing the PageRank indicator from their toolbar. The pubicly available PageRank score hasn’t been updated in years anyway, so it’s about time.

That is all for this month’s update.

Remember, we live in this internet age, so it’s important that you stay strong in the search engines so you can achieve your mission online. We here at OurChurch.Com are here to help you do that, so if we can answer any questions for you or do anything else to help you improve your search engines and achieve your mission online, please give us a call or send us an email.
Thanks for watching and have a great day!

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