The debate on organic search rages on with a few proclaiming that Google has well and truly strangled organic search results. However, while there are increasing signs that point to Google favoring paid results, organic search is still very much alive.
A blog posted by a New York business owner Aaron Harris indicated the decreasing real estate space now dedicated to organic search results. He calculated that merely 13 percent of a pc screen was now dedicated to organic search results.
The blog fuelled the debate on the topic since others had also posted blogs showing similar results in the past. There is no doubt that SERPs continue to change, but in addition so is the behavior of users that are also searching through a wider range of devices. Marketers certainly need to adapt to changing market conditions.
The way results are displayed by Google does indicate a change in their strategy. For instance, a search for Italian restaurants in New York on an iPhone displays ads and maps right up to the fourth page after which one can see organic results. While this data from Aaron Harris seems to confirm his doubts, one may also consider that many users may wish to read reviews and look at the local map before actually visiting the website of any restaurant.
Anyway, search results also depend on the location of the user, time of the day or night, and their previous queries, which will demonstrate their intent upon which Google will display the results. In 2012, Google had announced that ads are triggered by merely 30 percent of searches. In case there is a major change, there are institutions like FTC that have already asked most search engines to ensure transparency in paid products to match changing SERPs. They were asked to ensure that consumers can distinguish between paid ads and organic results.
The fact is that all search engines including Google wish to make money and change will be a constant factor as they figure out new ways to do so. While Google keeps on improving its algorithm to deliver the best possible results to users, it may also be focusing on earning money out of that exercise. As a marketer, you can merely observe changes and adapt quickly to stay in the game.