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Stephen Logan

Why Have Google Sidelined UK Results?

3rd Jun 2010 News, Industry News 2 minutes to read

As the UK only search tab goes walkabout, we look at why Google binned it in favour of the left-hand navigation.

As part of the recent reshuffle of the Google SERPs, the UK only results tab (formerly featured beneath the search box) has vanished. With the continuing issues of international sites featuring in Google.co.uk results, UK searchers (and SEO experts) are facing further confusion.

Okay, so the ‘pages from the UK’ button has only migrated south west slightly to the left hand navigation, but what does this achieve?

It can probably be looked at in 2 ways. Firstly there’s the cynical view. Google want to keep you on their search engine. They want you to keep searching and to click on a few of their sponsored adverts for good measure. This is how they make their money and ensure they maintain search dominance.

By providing relevant results, without quite giving the searcher exactly what they are looking for, Google can effectively challenge them to explore further. After having the UK search tab in one position for years, people have become accustomed to it. Now that it has been repositioned in the new left-hand navigation (with slightly different wording), infrequent users could easily miss it and be forced to search again.

The second is purely aesthetic. Google have clearly invested a great deal in changing the look of their SERPs. Whilst the previous option for choices beneath the search box for either UK only or Internet wide results was hardly imposing, evidently it doesn’t fit in with the clear three column approach. By integrating it in the left-hand navigation, the look of the page appears cleaner.

If the search results were more UK orientated in the first place this would hardly be an issue. However, with American, Australian, Canadian and other international results still sneaking into UK SERPs it is something of a nuisance.

Change is probably one of the few constants in the world of search. Whilst the left-hand navigation still hasn’t registered with many, over time it will. Google’s search dominance and brand awareness ensures that they won’t lose much in the way of search share because of a small thing like UK only results, but of course this could have implications for British businesses.

If you can’t find a way of filtering out global results, you are more likely to simply choose one of the options given to you. Whether this proves to be local to you or not remains another matter. It will certainly be interesting to see if there are any long-term consequences of all these changes.

So what do you make of the move? Are Google trying to retain searchers’ attention for a little while longer or are they simply neatening up their SERPs. Will it have a major impact on UK results and could it drive people away/mad?

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