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Google SERP Browsing Goes Mouse-Free

Stephen Logan

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.

Stephen Logan

Stephen Logan

Stephen Logan is our Senior Content Marketer at Koozai. With four years experience writing exclusively for the search engine marketing industry, he has amassed a wealth of industry related knowledge. He will be breaking news stories and contributing compelling SEO related stories.

8 Comments

  • victor 1st October 2010

    hi friends

    I recently saw at Analytics ( Traffic Sources > Search Engines > Google > )

    that my first positioned SERP keywords in spain (musaka, leche frita, recetas con carne picada) have decreased from 17 to 25% just because they are marked with the blue arrow.

    My webpage has almost 7000 visits per day.

    Im a bit worried about this.

    Have someone check if blue arrow is good or bad for your traffic?

    Reply to this comment

  • victor 1st October 2010

    For more information go to:

    http://www.muchovictor.net/blog/113/blue-arrow-on-google-serps-decrease-your-traffic

    This is quite serious problem…

    Reply to this comment

  • Paul B 1st October 2010

    I hadn’t noticed till I read your post Stephen. I agree PPC costs might increase as people who wouldn’t have clicked before might be inclined to do so.

    Just did a Google search on blackberry no blue arrow there, this is where I thought it might come in use for me but not to be.

    P

    Reply to this comment

  • Daren 10th October 2010

    Ths is interesting as I had assumed the CTR would rise due to the arrow.
    But you can bet that if there is a similar drop across the board, Google will make changes since this will cut noticeably into their profits. Unless of course they aren’t evil…

    However, from a usability standpoint, I like it so far.

    Reply to this comment

  • Tony 11th October 2010

    My mouse just died and I just discovered it! Nice touch – making life a lot easier while I wait for it to charge back up again :)

    Reply to this comment

  • Mike Essex

    Mike 12th October 2010

    Another issue to consider is that adverts on the right hand side are accessed after you’ve scrolled through the 10 organic listings. This means the top three spots are even more valuable, and if Google move to 30 organic results will make the likelihood of those adverts being chosen with the blue arrow incredibly low.

    Reply to this comment

  • Sam 12th October 2010

    I think this could be a really useful feature for those of us who don’t like using the mouse. As Mike has pointed out, the issue is that the sponsored ads on the right hand side are not able to be reached unless you scroll through the entire page of organic listings first. Be good to see a way of tabbing between organic and paid results if they keep this new feature running.

    Reply to this comment

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