Can You Compete With Google's Shrinking Organic Results?

Sep 20, 2013 • 8:45 am | comments (37) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine Optimization

shrinkingThere is no one who would argue that Google hasn't made the search results more cluttered with other search results. Be it search ads, product ads, youtube videos, local results, and so forth. This has resulted in many of the organic results being pushed down.

A WebmasterWorld thread asks if you as an SEO and webmaster can survive the shrinking Google SERPs.

Greg Niland, aka goodroi, said in the thread:

Google keeps changing its serps. Google has more adwords advertisers today than it did 15 years ago so there are more ads taking up space. Google has also added local listings, images, videos, news headlines, shopping and other results to their search results. Many of these changes have resulted in less traffic flowing to the organic web results. Before you could rank #3 or #4 and still appear above the page fold. Now the #3 or #4 position can fall below the page fold.

Do you think webmasters can survive Google's shrinking serps? Make sure to explain yourself.

I'd hope so!

One webmaster responded by explaining that his strategy for how he builds sites has changed with Google.

Roger Monti, aka martinibuster wrote:

I have been altering my conception of what a website is by trying to think in terms of how a site can become a tool for people to use for accomplishing their goals, rather than a dead-end destination for visitors to do a limited set of activities.

Do you think you can adapt to survive or there is no hope?

Forum discussion at WebmasterWorld.

This post was written earlier this week and scheduled to be posted today.

Image credit to BigStockPhoto for slinky

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09/20/2013 01:07 pm

I see the implementation of these new result types popping up as an opportunity to advance on our competition by exploiting them to the best of our ability. Google wants to include a sampling of image results in the SERPs? Great! Time to start adding our watermark to our images and getting them all ranked well. Google wants to include youtube/video results in the SERPs? Great! Time to start getting movies out there and ranked. Google wants to include shopping results for shopping queries? Great! Time to pay more attention to PLA and supplier listings. Google wants to include adwords listings? Great! Time to make sure our AdWords campaigns are performing well and that the budget is being used as effectively as possible. Of course not all of these are exploitable by all business types (we don't even bother with local as we ship internationally and act as an online catalog), but the ones that can be exploited are opportunities for getting your name in front of eyeballs and your products displayed in multiple locations for the same search.


09/20/2013 02:15 pm

Speaking of shrinking, anyone else have to shrink their page cause the social media bar on the left hand side covers the article....


09/20/2013 02:35 pm

Don't have a lot of money to throw around? Great! Now you can't rely on PLAs or Adwords to help you generate traffic to your site. I'm part of a larger company that can bid on them, and I still believe that the big brands are getting more attention. They have the money, they get the preferential treatment. Google's a business behemoth, and will always act as one.


09/20/2013 02:57 pm

That's a very fair point. It seems that the internet is starting to become much more like 'real-life' when it comes to ecommerce. Not everyone gets to win and the little guys need to innovate before they can start throwing advertising money around. The brands rank well and advertise across all available platforms for a reason: They have the best user metrics, see the most traffic, and have the most money to spend (not just on active advertising, but also on their site architecture and user interaction). The real world of business is now on the internet and so these big brands are going to dominate. Complaining about it is ridiculous.


09/20/2013 02:57 pm

Most people know that they can get what they want from the brick and mortar XY Big Brand Electronics, but they want the convenience, additional choice, and possible savings, of ordering online. Are they likely to shop at ZY Small Online Electronics Store? Maybe, but they are more than likely going to do a search for something like 'XY Big Brand Electronics HD Television', because they know the brand and most people are creatures of habit (and feel more comfortable giving over their financials to a brand they know anyway). Does this mean that it is now impossible to run a small business online? Of course it doesn't, but it does mean that innovation and added value are important. Cultivating customer loyalty and offering something more than the established brands (in whichever way you can) is how businesses in the 'real world' operate. Small guys build up and compete all the time...sometimes they fail and achieving success is incredibly difficult...that is life and the reality of business. Internet, meet the real two will be interacting closely from now on. It is time to acknowledge that and stop pining for the 'good ol' days'.


09/20/2013 02:59 pm

Note: these two replies should be read as "that's a fair point..." first and the other comment following. Disqus likes to not display long comments, so I broke it in two and am not sure how it will display.

Durant Imboden

09/20/2013 03:07 pm

"Shrinking SERPs" are only part of the problem. Geotargeting, daypart targeting, and/or whatever else Google may be doing when serving up search results can also reduce the number of search impressions that a publisher receives for a given keyphrase. Also, too many publishers and e-commerce sites chase specific keywords and keyphrases. The days when ranking on a handful of "money keywords" was a guarantee of search traffic (and earnings) may be over.


09/20/2013 03:19 pm

Oh, Disqus. I agree that innovation is key for the smaller companies. If you want to stand out as a small fish in a big pond, you have to differentiate yourself to some extent. Not saying that the good ol' days are where we should head back to, it just makes SERP life tougher for the little guys. That being said, many small companies get their first boost of traffic from somewhere other than through the SERPs. When Google picks up on this, they'll hopefully bring them to the forefront of Web, News, YouTube, whatever it might be. I have faith in the smaller companies, but it's not going to be a walk in the park for them anymore.


09/20/2013 03:52 pm

Have to agree with you on that, Bobby. Thanks for the interesting conversation.

Ashish Ahuja

09/20/2013 04:57 pm

I still think there is room for organic searches as many people have ad blindness and prefer to click organic results over ads

Jitendra Vaswani

09/20/2013 06:03 pm

i think nobody can compete with Google shrinking updates, many webmasters are unable to survive due to this. Some loyal seo webmaster are also hit by panda & penguin updates


09/20/2013 07:09 pm

Giving good ranks to big brands is a nice strategy to satisfy a noob's quest for information, but the year 2000 has passed over a decade ago. Who does not know who Amazon is and all the products they sell as an affiliate? Who wants to by new or used items in an online auction and has not heard of eBay? Who has not heard of the online encyclopedia called Wikipedia? Has anyone here not heard of the social networking site called Facebook? The best part of a search product is finding something unique and different. If we are force-fed the same big brand search results for our queries, at places we already know cover the information or have the products we are searching for, what good is it? I think it's pretty boring. Google is driving "advanced" users away from their search results. And no, the paid ads don't cut it for me either because most of those are from the same big brands that dominate the organic results. Talk about repetitive and boring search results!


09/20/2013 07:15 pm would think the 'advanced users' would understand that they can continue on to page 2, 3, 4, 5, etc... Millions of pages on the same topic...I would expect an 'advanced user' to dig a little deeper or to refine their search further and continue. Wouldn't want to think that all those 'advanced users' go the way of the 'noob' and look only on the first page of the results.


09/20/2013 07:47 pm

Sorry, but i think - no hope. we just need new G competitor in search engine playground. G is about $$$$ and never will give us correct answer (on topics ads above fold, updates - who get $$$ benefits, serp go down more and more, etc).


09/20/2013 07:49 pm

amazon have such enormous authority because 1. affiliate links (google tell us what penalize for it, but looks it not true in amazon case). 2. Special google white list as for member for internet coalition. organic results is crap for long time. Brands need to be in personalization of matt cutts & lary page, but not for everybody and everywhere!!! It so hard to find now anything in google except "things to buy from top brands".


09/20/2013 07:54 pm

absolutely not true.


09/20/2013 07:58 pm

YOUR RIGHT.... THERE A GAP IN THE MARKET.... LETS NOT FILL THAT GAP THOUGH WITH GOOGLE+ and just repeat ourselves and get screwed over again.!


09/20/2013 08:45 pm

Great contribution to the conversation. Stellar.


09/20/2013 08:47 pm

PS: Refusing to attempt to understand the reality of the changing nature of the web is going to leave you bitter and screaming about adwords and nothing else. I sincerely hope that you operate your own web properties and nothing else. If you have clients, I feel sorry for the consultation they are paying for.


09/20/2013 10:25 pm

;-) looks like everybody have own opinion. If you have access to some big stats, you can easily see why i speak like it. especially about behavior factors.


09/21/2013 12:14 am

Captain, you have said everything that needs to be said... " The best part of a search product is finding something unique and different"... OF COURSE, Google isn't complying with this, you don't need too much brain to realize of this... SERPs are getting boring and monotonous every single day... for example, try any query that has to do with automotive topics, they are always the same 5 big brands with the same pages, Google isn't going deep to get the right answers, it is like Google has regressed 10 years ago... You can't imagine how every day I'm enjoying more and more using Bing, Yahoo, and DuckDuckGo, which is amazing! If anyone has enough influence to make a Googler read what CaptainKevin has just said, it would great!


09/21/2013 12:30 am

I'm more than advanced user. I can certify, that digging deeper just waste my time. And I dig a lot, because I always search the problem in myself in first place, means I suppose I do something wrong. I just can't believe Google can't provide useful results on my simple in most cases queries. So, I dig dig dig and the only I get is the time waste. I did it once, hundred, five hundred times and finally I lost my trust in Google as the reliable source of information. Sometimes it provides information, but many times it doesn't. But the problem is not in information. Being more than advanced user I understand why Google shows me this particular website on this particular place in SERP. And I totally disagree with this approach. I'm the consumer and I don't like the product Google offers me. I don't want to start the examples fight here, it's useless, but you know me a bit. You know, that during all the time I'm here, I defended Google in every possible way. This blog didn't turned into WMW branch of whiners because of my position in a lot of cases. But I really thought, that Google just need time. I thought they work hard. I expected the other day I'll be impressed with Google's SERP. 2 years past since I took Google's side, being the fan and loyal consumer and what is the result ? The result is - I'm not sure, if I will be able to get information when I need it. My question to you is - How much deeper must I dig ?


09/21/2013 12:51 am

I'm publisher. I monitor this market. There are no aged publishers chasing keywords. In fact, real publishers never chased keywords. Just no reason. You probably mean traffic hunters. They have nothing to do with publishing. The difference is the same as between SEOs and programmers.


09/21/2013 01:12 am

A new SOCIAL Search Engine should rise up! Hope is only for Fastest SOCIAL Search engine which can give everybody huge very huge and fast traffic :)

Christian Thomson

09/21/2013 05:11 am

Oh yeah this is true!!!


09/21/2013 10:26 am

my Aunty Eva just got a fantastic gold Mercedes E-Class Hybrid only from working part-time off a laptop... webpage w­w­w.J­A­M­20.c­o­m


09/21/2013 12:58 pm

Yeah Guys, I have measured and show the shrinking in serp. Great explanation provided here by all the experts. Thanks Guys.


09/21/2013 08:10 pm

I thought I could, but as I am still seeing some of my important blog being "pulled down" on organic traffic, this can be the end to me. I don't mean to be catastrophic, but google is ruining the business of many people with this "updates".

Soni Sharma

09/23/2013 06:04 am

Yes That's true google is shrinking organic web results. But I assume nothing is wrong with that I see good local results if keyword is related to local search results and tutorial videos if keyword is related to it. yes being a digital marketing strategist you have to do a lot of web marketing for fruitful results.

Online Freelance Jobs

09/23/2013 06:41 am

Google is just making money. Google only believes in Money.


09/23/2013 09:07 am

Yes , GovSource, We also see this form this year, google only make a more money... and not focus for better search result.........


09/23/2013 12:04 pm

No experts here, just us chickens.

Webstats Art

09/23/2013 03:23 pm

We can't survive, so we have to find ways to make money outside of the web


09/23/2013 04:21 pm



09/30/2013 12:00 pm

I think to be competitive you need to have a local and Google+ campaign. AdWords extensions are pushing organic further below the fold but you can still get premium traffic through local search.

Rob jH

10/07/2013 07:48 pm

Well said Sir, Google is basically now paid inclusion, try searching for 'hotels in london' 6 paid listings at the top of the page, all down the right and only 1 unpaid above the fold, or on smaller res none.

Ahmad Yuliyanto

10/28/2013 02:20 pm

In the future we need an alternative search engine that works as good as (or better) than google but give pure organic result.

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