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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Bing tests mixes of paid and organic results on SERPs

I was distressed to read in Searchengineland that Bing is testing something similar to Google's SERP structure, where organic result lists are interrupted by paid entries, or compilations of "emphasized" content, often at the "fold" position (4th or 5th place, roughly halfway down the page).

Distressed, yes, but not surprised - time will tell whether their trial run reveals that users pay attention to the faint labeling that indicates that a listing is an advertisement, but it seems well established already that the Google practice of placing sponsored links at the very top and to the right hand column in SERPs has led to its users learning to largely ignore the right hand area of the page, along with spending less viewing time on the very top of the main body as well. The presence of "search engine provider-preferred" content at the fold position, also means that listings that fall beneath this visual area are only likely to be noticed by visitors researching commercial offerings, if the entries above said fold happen to be from purely informational sources.

My employer happens to use the right hand column of its standard page design (at least for the last few versions thereof) to link to collateral, and quite often its various calls to action. My team has been advocating a movement to instead use the lead or banner image (we tend to call them "hero images" internally) or prominent text link in the main body for at least the primary call to action.

We still need to work on concision (of main body text); perhaps the further reinforcement of the "fold" concept will be an effective incentive to pare down textual content...

About Mayo

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Professional: As "Senior Enterprise SEO Strategist" in IBM's Digital Marketing division, I provide consulting and training services for both internal and external clients. Formerly I was involved in Natural Language Processing, software localization, quality assurance and documentation authoring.
Personal: INTJ Nikkei Nisei ex-patriated Canadian who takes photographs and enjoys Baroque through late Classical music. The G+ page shares some of the "best of" photos.