Our own eagle-eyed SEO –oligist Dr. Naveel spotted the latest in Google’s efforts to place an ad anywhere search results are today. So far this is only a test but Google is approaching their clients about participation and looking carefully at the data in advance of a full roll-out to all users. Google is simply monetizing the navigation box itself, leveraging auto-complete as a display space for advertisers. By the way, that splotch that looks like cat vomit at the top of these screenshots is Google’s logo for today celebrating the find of a partially fossilized “missing link” skeleton.
It remains to be seen whether navigation ads are as effective as traditional search ads when it comes to click-through rates. There is a school of thought that people trust auto complete results more (if they have it turned on) but we are also used to seeing the top link within these types of results as the most likely one to be “correct” and thus get clicked on.
That being said, it’s worth noting that the top link in blue on the AOL search above and others we’ve seen is organic and includes the description in many cases from the website itself – a potential boon to SEO. While the merits of being at the bottom of the auto-complete form are debatable until we see more data there is no question that life is good on top.
Brands will definitely want to optimize with an eye towards the navigation box in the future. Even issues like how many letters it takes before your organic and/or paid search comes up will likely merit close inspection and plenty of testing on the part of marketers.
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