What can Google do better? Have 2 column Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)

This is nothing to do with cats so cat lovers can turn the page. It is something I want to get off my chest. It is about their search engine rankings or more accurately described as Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). The great difficulty that Google has is that they have to award a single website with the top spot. The number one position.

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They do allow some movement so sites not at the top can move up as they do change their algorithm often (daily?). They also seem to operate a ‘time share’ system for the top spots which spreads the award across more sites. However, the weakness with SERPS is that there is one No 1 spot which gets nearly all the traffic. The top 3 spots take it all. Page 2 is almost useless for a website in terms of visibility. It is wrong. There are many excellent websites which are invisible.

Why not have 2 top spots and 2 second places and so on? Why not have two columns on SERPs? There is all that strange, dead space on the right-hand side of the page (2019 – things have changed a bit). Two columns would be fairer to millions more websites. The truth is that Google often gets their search results wrong in my view 😎.

Presenting 2 columns would provide searchers with a wider choice and website owners with compensation for years of not attaining the top position (unfairly! 🤢). It would also mean that twice the number of search results are presented on the first page and so on.

The column on the left would be the No 1 spot and the same position horizontally on the right would be joint first. Happier website owners and therefore happier Google.

I’d maintain 2 columns for mobile too. You’d just have to reduce the excerpt and have titles only.

Google must have thought about 2 column SERPs. Why don’t they do it? No idea. They must think that there has to be one winner or perhaps it is a presentational issue. They might think that 2 columns would be messy.

Things have changed

I wrote this years ago when Google’s presentation in their search results was much simpler. It’s now quite complicated and they do use the right-hand side at the top sometimes or always on page 1.

The modern trend by search engines is to use information from websites presented in their search results which helps to keep the customer on their pages. Being a website owner, I don’t like it for obvious reasons.

I think, they should once again simplify SERPs and go to a two-column presentation. The presentation should be a lot cleaner, simpler and dare I say it fairer (to the website owners).

Another problem in the modern world is that artificial intelligence is also stealing traffic from websites. It’s a war against websites it seems to me.

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Google, perhaps correctly, is also making more demands on website owners to ensure that their websites load very rapidly. They do this by making demands on their Search Engine Console regarding what they describe as “core vitals”. It’s very complicated, very difficult, the standard is enormously high and very difficult to attain if you run your own website as an independent rather than having a team of specialists behind you.

It almost seems to me that Google is supporting and prioritising the big websites with tech specialists and working against the independent website owners who are good at writing content but might not be tech specialists. They probably won’t be and they will struggle with these technical demands.

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