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The web has been buzzing about Google Local Search being folded into non-local results. Never mind the inaccuracies of the results local search is currently delivering, the morass of information that Google is now serving for some SERPS is starting to create a real usability problem.
Have a look at a screenshot of the SERP for "beds."
Notice that this page has:
- 11 Adwords ads
- 10 organic search results
- 10 local search results
- 8 related search suggestions
- 3 news results
- 3 shopping results
This page could easily have also displayed blog search results, image results and videos. Who's to say Google won't add a grouping of "social search" results down the line as well. That's a lot of information on one page!
When Google first launched you got 10 organic results on a page and up to 10 ads and if you wanted more you had to adjust your preferences or actively look at other types of search - Images, Shopping, News, Directory, etc. People liked Google because of this simplicity - you searched and you got accurate results and it was easy to know what to do - follow an organic link, click on a paid link or search further.
The rule of thumb we use is to put no more than three different calls to action on a page - for example, on a typical web page we might ask you to:
- Phone us
- Email us
- Sign up for our newsletter
On our blog pages we're naughty because we provide four calls to action:
- Bookmark the page
- Comment on the post
- Sign up for the newsletter
- Subscribe to our RSS feed
Google is providing no less than six types of actions with the possibility of even more being added to a page that now stretches well below the fold - even though search marketers know full well that most people don't look beyond the fold on any SERP.
What does this mean for search and for search marketing?
Well, having a variety of appearances on a given SERP will be far more important - you can't just rely on organic search and PPC anymore. You need to also get results in the news, local, products, video and image results - because you need to get your listing above the fold by whatever means you can.