Google Tests Feature That Could Keep Even More Traffic From Sites

Chris CrumSearch

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Google is apparently testing a feature that could lead to even less clicks from users to third-party websites.

Is Google going too far with its on-site content? Should it be sending more traffic to publishers? Let us know what you think.

As you're no doubt aware, Google provides quick answer results for numerous queries. These attempt to give you the best answer right on the Google results page, and often pull from third-party sites, reducing the chances that the user will click through and send traffic to the site providing the answer.

IgniteVisibility shows a screenshot (via Search Engine Land) of a feature Google appears to be testing, which provides five different answers from the box, enabling the user to scroll through them. Here's what it looks like:

According to the blog, the feature is appearing on mobile, but not desktop, though this could easily change or not even be consistent with another user's experience. We're unable to reproduce the feature at all.

While some publishers will be concerned about the potential for reducing traffic, one could argue that having more results in that top box could help the sites that appear in the boxes. At least they're getting prime search visibility.

Most will no doubt be of the former mindset, especially considering that this was already a major concern before Google started multiplying the number of answers it actually shows.

Google doesn't really care that much about what publishers think of such moves though. As we've heard the company say over and over again, they're catering to users - not publishers. If it's a better user experience, that's what they're going to go with.

Truth be told, from the user perspective, this probably is an upgrade. Unfortunately, the information Google pulls isn't always necessarily going to be 100% accurate, but that's another issue altogether.

Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Roundtable has an interesting idea about how Google could make publishers feel better about the quick answers they show. Again, Google probably doesn't care that much, but it's not a bad concept.

As we recently saw, Google has been showing call-to-action links for some of these types of results when it comes from its own websites. There's one that says "show me how," for example that accompanies the steps for adding negative keywords to AdWords.

Barry's idea is that Google could give webmasters an option in Webmaster Tools to have a similar link and icon, but be able to control those things, kind of like how Google does with sitelinks.

As it stands, some webmasters consider Google a scaper of their content when it comes to this stuff. It is possible that offering such a feature could ease some of those tensions.

While Google isn't typically inclined to bother appeasing webmasters' wishes, occasionally it does deliver on requested features. It took awhile, but the Disavow Links tool is a good example of that. You never know.

For the time being, it looks like webmasters are just going to have to continue to deal with the curveballs Google throws at them. Keep in mind, however, that this one appears to just be a test so far.

Do you think this is a good feature? What do you think of Barry's concept? Do you think Google would consider offering something like that? Discuss.

Image via IgniteVisibility

Chris Crum
Chris Crum has been a part of the WebProNews team and the iEntry Network of B2B Publications since 2003. Follow Chris on Twitter, on StumbleUpon, on Pinterest and/or on Google: +Chris Crum.