Search Engine Land dropped a post yesterday about some apparent testing in Google search results. This is not huge news, it’s the kind of thing they do.
In brief, Google is testing a new way of presenting sitelinks (those helpful links to specific areas of a site) in Google ads.
The usual way of displaying them, on desktop:
The test, however, displays the sitelinks as a single list instead of two columns. We tried to recreate those results, without success. So we borrowed this screenshot from Search Engine Land, with all credit to Erik Hamilton of Good Apple Digital, who found this:
Search Engine Land notes that this display method takes up more space than the two-column method.
And here we come to the crux of the matter: Combined with Google’s decision to show up to four ads at the top of search results, organic space on results pages is trending toward skimpy.
Now it’s true, they might limit the number of ads above the organic results if there are particularly long lists of sitelinks, just to keep from pushing those organic results down any further. In which case, no real change.
But if not, some interesting things are going to happen to those organic listings.
If they’re pushed down, you can expect the click-through-rate for the top couple to drop. So the value of the first few results probably diminishes.
And what about the rest? Well, that’s hard to say.
Overall, their value would probably drop, too. But if Google ends up with fewer organic results on the page overall, then the middle and bottom ones could actually see a slightly higher click-through.
One thing’s for certain: anything that gets pushed back to the second page will have a rough go.
What’s Google’s move? I don’t know. Theirs is always a balancing act between getting more clicks on those paid ads, and still providing a user experience that doesn’t seem like paid ads are all they’re interested in.