If you think I'm joking, guess again. Google is venturing down a slippery slope and I believe they're risking a lot in the process.
Let's take a look at the first example, as first reported here :
Notice anything strange here? Yep - that's 4, count them FOUR adwords ads appearing at the top of the search results. This is the kind of thing Bing did when they were MSN, as well as AOL - and I think it accounts for a big reason why their search engines had such low market share.
But once you taste that money - well, I guess you just need more and more...and more.
The good news, if there is any, is that this is only happening (for now at least) for 'mortgage' related search queries. Probably because the CPC is ridiculously high.
Up next, we have another change to the beloved Google Places (maps) listings. Just the mention of Google Places is enough to make my blood pressure rise - it really is like the wild west on that side of town, no real rhyme or reason to many of the displayed results...but now-
They (Google) obviously know what a boon this has been to the businesses they've been displaying, which is why they're -surprise surprise-offering sponsored ads to those businesses and experimenting with 'one-box' results that send the users to the places page instead of the business website.
And now this:
...ok, so we have - in order:
- adwords ads at the top (2-3 typically)
- local maps listings (either 1 or 7 typically)
- then the non-paid, organic search listings
And now they're shoving other suggested searches ABOVE those as well?! Why Google, Why?
My advice - time to diversify your search marketing strategy. If you're looking to Google for your primary source of traffic, better save up your cash - because they're gonna want their take.