A few days back, following the launch of Google Instant, I noticed that a little blue arrow had appeared next to the first sponsored listing on Google results pages. Intrigued by this addition, I went on to find that the arrow is a facility which Google has introduced to improve search engine usability, with visitors no longer having to use the mouse to navigate through each result.
Instead, users simply need to scroll through results using the arrow keys on the keyboard, and, when they find the link they wish to visit, they just need to press ‘enter’.
I’m all for improving search, but I must say, I’m unsure as to whether this development will have positive results.
From a ‘paid search’ point of view, companies using PPC may need to consider the possibility that users might accidentally click the ‘enter’ button twice, in quick succession. This would result in the user being taken to the website which appears in first position within the sponsored listings, and that company being charged a fee. Surely Google will need to understand that this might occur, and they will need to be able to determine whether the visit was accidental, or was in fact, legitimate.
From another point of view, those sites, which have engaged in an organic strategy and are highly ranked within the natural SERPs, may see a fall in visitor levels as the little blue arrow now means that paid listings are favoured. If users choose to make use of the keyboard functionality, they have to scroll past two (in some cases) sponsored listings before getting to the top position within the natural results.
It is possible that Google may have made this change to increase the revenue it earns through the Adwords system.