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by Stephen Logan on 1st October 2010
Google sneak in a blue arrow allowing users to tab through results without having to click on results, making top spot even stronger and PPC ads eminently more clickable.
As part of the ongoing Google Instant updates, the search engine overlord has introduced a subtle yet interesting addition to its SERPs – a scrolling arrow. So rather than navigating between keyboard and mouse mid-search, you can simply use a combination of the up, down and enter keys to get to the result you want.
I can’t take credit for this find; Malcolm Coles first highlighted it this morning on his blog [see: Google Instant keyboard navigation increases likelihood of clicking PPC ads], however it does throw up some interesting issues – not least the potential impact on PPC advertisers. You see, the blue arrow is automatically positioned on the first link on any particular page. So whether that’s the local listing, organic result or a sponsored link, if a user simply presses enter they will be taken directly to your site.
This of course is great if you’re top of the pile. You get added (subconscious) exposure with an arrow pointing directly at your name, plus there’s a greater likelihood that someone will, deliberately or otherwise, press enter and end up on your site.
PPC costs could rise as a consequence though. With more people instantly clicking on ads, being top can see click through saw. Of course that’s no bad thing, not as long as it’s targeted traffic. However, if you’re also doing well in the organic rankings, perhaps first or second in the listing, this could mean that you spend more unnecessarily. That may be one to watch for those in that situation.
Google loves to find ways to channel people through to the paid adverts on their results pages; that’s where they get (some of) their money after all. Is this a blatant attempt to steer more people towards these high paying sponsors? Possibly.
But the simple fact is that it’s a straightforward piece of programming that could help some (particularly those suffering mouse-related issues) continue to search their pages with greater ease. It’s unobtrusive and easy enough to ignore – if indeed you find it in the first place.
The whole Google model, including design, algorithm and functionality, is evolving though. These small changes slowly congregate over time and create a larger, more impactful coagulation in the search stream. This is often punctuated by ‘major’ changes such as Google Instant that draw top headlines [see: Google Delivering Search Results in an Instant
]; however, it would be unwise to overlook these seemingly less significant updates and the impact it could have on your site’s traffic and PPC spend.
Top spot certainly just became a lot more desirable, whether in AdWords or organic listings. But what’s next for Google Instant? Some users, including here at Koozai, lost the next button for a short while this week; therefore only the first page of results were available. Are Google shifting the furniture to accommodate a single rolling results page, in the same style as their own image search function and Twitter’s latest update? Did it just fall off accidentally though? There’s certainly plenty going on and no shortage of speculation to fan those flames.