The Evolution of Search
In the first quarter of this year, RKG reported that for the first time desktop and laptop search was down when looking at a year-over-year comparison. However, when tablets and smartphones are thrown into the mix, we're still looking at a healthy 15 percent YOY growth. Consumers aren't searching less; the convenience of mobile devices is simply changing the way they choose to do it. The image below compares the percentage growth of clicks and spend of desktop/laptops, smartphones and tablets.
With search moving away from desktops for a mobile alternative, Google became aware of the need need for a new web design layout that could help better monetize search results across all devices.
An issue that's received surprisingly little play within the search engine optimization industry is the effect of the design change Google implemented last November, just in time for the 2012 holiday season. In this example below, Google's search engine results page (SERP) is displaying both Product Listing Ads (PLAs) and the Knowledge Graph that directly relate to the search query, "Nike shoes."
Google is now inviting and conditioning users to check out the featured content, effectively drawing their attention away from other components of the SERP like organic listings and potentially even text ads.
Components of the design changes included the following:
- consistent design across desktop, tablets and mobile devices;
- relocation of search tools and options to the horizontal bar above results; and
- introduction of what I'm calling the "feature area."
In a beautifully coordinated effort by Google, this new design represents the culmination of superior technologies that allow a seamless and consistent user experience. Google has a variety of effective tools it can use to populate this area, from Knowledge Graph, Google Maps or PLAs. And like so many things in the search industry, the more success it has, the sooner it will have company. Bing recently announced a similar strategy of its own.