On the 24th of March, Google added a “Searches related to:” section on their search results pages and started to include longer snippets for long tail queries. Here’s their announcement:
Today we’re rolling out two new improvements to Google search. The first offers an expanded list of useful related searches and the second is the addition of longer search result descriptions — both of which help guide users more effectively to the information they need.
Here’s a quick thought though, beyond user considerations, would a search engine company like Google have any other motivation to enhance the search results pages in this way? Let’s put ourselves in the shoes of the searcher for a moment:
It occured to me that there’s a really obvious commercial implication for the screenshot we see above. If you end up scrolling down to the bottom of a SERP and follow a “Searches related to:” link, you’re taken back to a page 1 result rather than using the page navigation to get to page 2 or higher results. I think that’s a very clever move for Google’s paid search advertising income stream.
If more users are routed back to page 1 results for more relevant search engine results, Google gets another opportunity to get their more premium, higher bidding search advertisers in front of the users. In short, Google could use this enhancement as a mechanism to generate more revenue from their paid search income stream.
It must be extremely difficult to increase your revenue from textual results pages like this without compromising the value that “organic” search results bring to the user. If Google didn’t care about the value of their natural results and were hell bent on increasing paid revenue, I’m pretty sure they’d do something like decrease the coverage of the organic results in favour of the paid. With the alternative results solution, the user experience is enhanced. Nice work