Google cutting displayed search results from 10 down to 7 per page

By , ITworld |  Cloud Computing, Google, SEO

number 7

flickr/rzrxtion

More ads and fewer search results means one site often fills the first SERP (Search Engine Results Page).

Reported in detail by Dr. Peter Meyer on SEOmoz in “SERP Crowding & Shrinkage: It's Not Your Imagination,” Google's first page of search results used to show 10 results from 99 to 96 percent of the time. Starting August 14, suddenly almost 20 percent of pages showed only seven results. This cuts down domain diversity while expanding advertising room.

Over at Search Engine Land, Danny Sullivan notes that Google's promised attempts to reduce “site clustering” (search listings on the first results lists are pages of the same site) but the new seven display model seems to go in the opposite direction. On the other hand, it's easier for major sites to push negative comments off the first page.

Is it money?

By limiting SERP domain choice, is Google driving more users to click ads?
AndrewMcGarry on seomoz.org

You want to show the most relevant results, but you don't want to over-load it with the same results, otherwise, people decide to just go directly to the source (Amazon for anything eCommerce for example) and skip Google over entirely.
Micah Fisher-Kershner on plus.google.com

So by having one site take over the SERPs, users can find diversity in ads and click there. Google has a vested ineterest in maiign ads more relevant than content.
Nelson D on searchengineland.com

Possible reasons

They must be doing their own multivariate testing
centerfield on seomoz.org

Commercial pressures have forced Google to compromise on the actual usefulness of their search facilities.
David Smith on searchengineland.com

I've since checked a fair few brand+keyword searches, and for us, as always, the further you get away from a pure brand name search (i.e. with 2/3 word keyphrases appended, rather than a single keyword), the less likely you are to get expanded sitelinks, so the less likley you are to see a 7 result SERP.
riplash on seomoz.org

Games

Am I being dense or would this point to keyword rich domains having an advantage again?
Zeph Snapp on seomoz.org

I'm really struggling to see how this is good for search quality. The 7-result SERP is one thing - that's an experiment, and Google may have their reasons (although I wish they'd express them out loud).
Pete Meyers on plus.google.com

I've noticed one of our competitors completely dominating entire pages of Google search engine results. This person has two different domains with the same product, between the two sites, the links to his sites fill two entire pages of results. How can this monopoly be good for the searcher or the user experience?
Mark E. Anderson on searchengineland.com

Do you believe fewer search results on Google pages will help, or hurt, users?

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