Have you Seen the First Page of Google Lately?

The first page of Google is getting a little long. On a recent survey of the term ‘plumber’, there are now 23 objects you can click on before you can reach page two or any of the ‘did you mean’ options.

Of those 23 options:

  • 6 are AdWords
  • 3 are Sponsored Google Services
  • 3 are Default Local Listings by Zip Code
  • 1 is an in-set Snippet from Wikipedia
  • 10 are SEO-Based Links

Being on the first page doesn’t even guarantee you’re the first option someone chooses anymore. You have to scroll down a whole page length to even reach the organic SEO options.

Even then you are beginning to deal with a serious problem when you have to realize that ranking for Plumber doesn’t even guarantee you’re the first business listed through SEO thanks to directories surging to the top of the search results.

But despite this bizarre layout of the new first page, there is still hope for SEO after all. SEO isn’t gone, but it does need to be upgraded.

There’s Room in Google For SEO

Google’s response here is evident. SEO is still important; it’s just not as important as it was before. With many different directories, local listings, social media outlets and more offering up as many options to finding local businesses like Google, it’s time that Google needs to grow and adapt.

SEO choices are still there, but there are many tertiary services that Google cannot allow to take dominance because it is both a threat to their platform and an undermining of the work that many businesses put into their own markets.

Of the top ten SEO results from before, 3 are directories or review sites, 1 is Wikipedia, 1 is a nationwide plumbing service, and 4 of them are genuine local businesses to me that are trying to rank in the city alone.

This makes the outlook for mainline SEO seem bleak, but surely longtail keywords will suffice, right?

Of the top ten SEO results from before, 3 are directories or review sites, 1 is Wikipedia, 1 is a nationwide plumbing service, and 4 of them are genuine local businesses to me that are trying to rank in the city alone.

5 Directories or Review sites (With Yelp twice, of all places), 1 Nationwide Plumbing Services, and four local businesses.

The same amount of ads are there, but there is no rich snippet from Wikipedia about what a plumber is.

While the prospects might not be as hot as they should be, there are still 4-5 very valuable spots that people should be vying for all the time. But we can’t forget the fact that SEO is now below the fold on Google.

Regarding SEO, there is no more getting to the first page of google. There is only getting to the second page of the first page of Google.

There’s Room in Google For Everything Else

Now that the first page has been rented out to the highest bidders on Google, we can begin to determine the three different avenues that they are opening up for SEO alternatives.

AdWords

Everyone is familiar with AdWords. Come up with great copy, place it on a fantastic landing page and you pay less than the worse pages out there and are launched to the top of Google so people looking for that service may find you.

Google Maps

Every business needs to register to be on Google Maps. This lets you appear in the search results as a brick-and-mortar establishment complete with a complementary Google Site and review system.

Google Services

Finally, and this seems to be the newest section on the market. Google Services. For many of you who have experience with Google Shopping and are used to seeing little squares of visual real estate, this is aimed predominately at Services that feature reviews and a little bit of rich text.

The biggest difference between Google Services and Google Shopping is that it will redirect you to a page to isolate the services you would need the trade for.

For example, you can see that it will ask you if you need a drain unclogged or a sewer line snaked and other similar services with which it will redirect you to the best suitable plumber based on your location, their reviews, and the services they offer, complete through a built-out Google Site (associated with a Google Maps page.)

What Does This Mean for the Future of Google and SEO?

SEO is and never was bad; it was simply broken. SEO is all about creating a page that Google’s Bots will think is most suitable for a human reader. This often led to unsavory measures with which people would try to artificially rank instead of suiting the needs of the reader themselves.

But now, through their popularity and first-page presence, Google knows what readers want. When readers are looking for services and shopping, they go to these third-party sites like Yelp, Home Advisor, and even Facebook to try and find authentic reviews and representations of what a business is.

Google is adapting its platform to what people want. Taking the best elements of its competitors and incorporating it to their first page while still catering to and accommodating people who have been trying to please Google every step of the way.

The future of SEO isn’t simply written copy. It’s an all-inclusive, all-encompassing marketing effort that will use every measure of SEO and online presence necessary to provide an honest and reasonable communication to the prospective clients.

Addendum: Since the writing of this blog and now, Google has made changes to their Meta Description rules. Previously Search Results only showed ~160 Characters with their placement; now they are currently showing ~320. Whether or not this in direct response to qualms similar to those we expressed in this article or not is unclear. However, this is a big win for organic results which are now gifted a bit more real estate on the first page.

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