**Updated on January 15th, 2023**
Every year, SEOs wonder about Google’s next venture for search results. In its early years, Google only made a handful of updates to its algorithms; Now, it makes thousands of changes every year. Google uses a combination of algorithms and numerous ranking factors to deliver web pages ranked by relevance, and because it seems to be changing more often than it stays the same, it’s essential that you stay ahead of the curve.
Is the Monetization of Google’s Search Results a Cause for Concern?
When it comes to the changes Google makes each year, we can almost always expect one or both of the following to happen:
- Google will monetize more of its results, which happened in 2020, and further in 2021 in the form of Local Service Ads.
- Google will change the appearance or layout of an organic component of the results, which occurred in the past few months with Google My Business when the map shifted to the side of the results rather than above.
In my opinion, 2022 was a brutal year for Google’s paid positioning. Surveys that we conducted showed that interest in Google Ads were at an all time low, and Local Service Ads were all but useless for the majority of our clients (and from the conversations we’ve had with other agencies, as well).
It’s only natural that most SEOs would be concerned about the continual monetization of Google search results, either way. After all, our bread and butter involves assisting websites in achieving organic, non-paid results. When Local Service Ads dropped at the very top of results, many—including myself—were curious about how that would take potential leads away from organic results. They did indeed garner clicks—slowly at first, then picking up momentum after about 6-9 months before plateauing.
Fortunately for us, most clicks were shifted from Google Ads to Local Service Ads. Most consumers had identified that it was another form of paid positioning, and those who favored organic results kept scrolling on to those results.
Looking at Market My Market’s Survey about Consumer Perception and Preference Surrounding Google
We’ve established the outcome of consumer preference for results, and what types of results generate the most leads and cases for our clients after everything is said and done. But this is all for naught if consumer perception of Google is on its way out. We gauge this particular trend annually, including consumer perception and preference of other platforms, such as Facebook and Twitter.
While this article established if respondents thought there were generally biased or suppressed results, it also asked specific questions about peoples’ general outlook on Google relative to other search engines. These January 2023 findings are now being compared to that of January 2022, just as they had been the year before.
These are all presented as one being “least likely” and ten being “most likely.” Five indicates a response that could be considered neutral.
ON A SCALE FROM 1–10, HOW MUCH DO YOU FEEL THAT THIS PLATFORM ALTERS OR SUPPRESSES SOCIAL/POLITICAL INFORMATION THAT IS PRESENTED TO YOU?
2021 – 5.69 2022 – 6.92 2023 – 7.05
ON A SCALE FROM 1-10, DO YOU FEEL LIKE YOU WILL BE LESS LIKELY TO TRUST INFORMATION THAT YOU SEE ON THIS PLATFORM COMPARED TO THE PREVIOUS YEAR?
2021 – 5.62 2022 – 5.08 2023 –5.31
ON A SCALE FROM 1–10, DO YOU BELIEVE GOOGLE STILL PROVIDES THE BEST SEARCH RESULTS OUT OF ANY SEARCH ENGINE OR SOCIAL PLATFORM?
2021 – 7.78 2022 – 8.04 2023 – 7.74
ON A SCALE FROM 1–10, HOW MUCH DO YOU FEEL THAT GOOGLE PROVIDES RESULTS THAT THE HIGHEST BIDDER CAN PURCHASE?
2021 – 6.14 2022 – 7.31 2023 – 7.21
People do generally agree that Google may alter/suppress sensitive information related to Social and Politcal issues, yet they still generally agree that Google provides the best results out of all current search engines, down slightly from 2022 but almost exactly the same as 2021. They also trust the results received on average more than 2021.
Monetization of results is still heightened, only slightly less than 2022 (2021 to 2022 had a large jump). Google will still be the clear leader as a search engine choice well into 2023, where we will revisit this survey again.
We can see this trend emerging, and see if it plays into the rest of consumer behavior with the strong aversion to paid advertising moving into 2023.
Is There a Correlation between Results Consumers Prefer and Those That Actually Produce Leads?
We wanted to see if there was a correlation between the results consumers preferred and those that produced leads. We took a look at five of our clients that met the following criteria:
- Form tracking and call tracking: We’re currently on CallRail so we can verify leads and sources
- A high volume of leads: We generated a large number of leads every month so we could have enough data with which to work (AKA, a minimum of hundreds of leads).
- A competitive budget for Google Ads, Local Service Ads, Google My Business, and SEO campaigns: We’re engaged in a complete campaign for everything we are tracking so that clients aren’t missing too many opportunities to generate additional leads. However, it’s important to note that there will always be somewhat of a gap with Google Ads, as you can spend millions of dollars a month on the campaign. The campaigns of these clients are substantial for the market in which they currently reside.
The following graphic says it all:
While survey results infer that respondents “prefer” LSAs because of their presentation, only 10% of client leads come from LSAs. This is the result of two main reasons:
- Many people get approved for LSAs, but only three positions will show up regardless of maxing out their bids
- Most high-intent searches that consumers perform don’t display LSAs.
For example, the search above is for a short-tail, vanity keyword “(city) DUI lawyer.” Most searches will appear as the following, though:
You’ll notice the absence of Google Ads, and most of the time, the LSA results wouldn’t be there either.
I believe the alteration or manipulation of information people see on Google may be attributed to information about COVID, which is interesting that people feel much more convicted there—if that’s the case—than the information the year before about the presidential election.
With the rise of LSAs in more search results, it wouldn’t be surprising to also see people agreeing more of their search results are being monetized. Either way, between both facts, the average respondent still believes that Google provides the best search results, even after acknowledging a potential rise in monetized results and social/political results exposed to bias. It may be worth inferring that the consumer outlook of other platforms, both search engines and social, is not so hot.
Contact the Consumer Trend Specialists at Market My Market
At Market My Market, our top-of-the-line SEO team has experience helping clients small and big outperform others in their niche so they can outshine the competition. We’re also a premier resource for communicating consumer trends and proving the viability of campaigns, both paid and organic. We do so through consistent and thorough research and data, not always speculation and intuition. Schedule a free consultation by completing our contact form today.