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Jun 2024

Google Search Shakeup

A recent study by the digital marketing agency Amsive has documented a notable shift in Google’s search results rankings over the past year.

The study found that Google is increasingly favouring ecommerce websites and sites featuring user-generated content, while reducing the visibility of product review and affiliate marketing sites.

Here’s a closer look at the findings and the potential implications for online businesses if these trends continue.

Ecommerce Dominance in Search Results

The study observed a significant increase in the presence of ecommerce sites in top search positions for many commercial queries.

Keywords that previously returned results from product review and affiliate sites now predominantly feature online retailers. For example:

  • Bird feeders: Ecommerce stores now occupy all 10 top positions, replacing several product review sites from the previous year.

  • Laptops: The top 10 results now consist exclusively of ecommerce websites, with some appearing multiple times.

  • Towel warmer: Ecommerce giants like Amazon have multiple listings, completely replacing affiliate websites in the top results.

Rise of User-Generated Content

Alongside ecommerce sites, user-generated content (UGC) platforms have seen a significant boost in search visibility.

Reddit, Quora, and YouTube now frequently appear in top positions for various queries where they were previously absent or ranked lower. This trend is particularly noticeable for longer queries like “toys for 2-year-old boys,” where UGC sites are more visible.

Impact on Product Review & Affiliate Sites

The shift in search rankings introduces challenges for product review and affiliate websites, as they’re now less visible for many commercial queries. While Google hasn’t explicitly stated that product review content is considered “unhelpful,” the data suggests that recent updates have disproportionately affected these pages.

Implications for Digital Marketing Strategies

Due to these changes, product review and affiliate sites may need to reconsider their strategies to maintain visibility and traffic. Lily Ray and Silvia Gituto, the study’s authors, suggest diversifying traffic sources through:

  • Increased focus on digital media and PR.

  • Enhanced social media engagement.

  • Creation of video content for platforms like YouTube Shorts and TikTok.

  • Development of podcast content.

  • Active participation in relevant online forums.

What This Means for Websites

For ecommerce sites, this shift represents an opportunity to gain more visibility and traffic. They can take advantage of this trend by encouraging more customer reviews and user-generated content on their sites.

Product review and affiliate sites may need to change their strategies. Promoting themselves on social media, making videos, starting podcasts, and engaging in online forums could help compensate for the loss of Google search traffic.

Adapting to these changes, especially around user-generated content, will likely be necessary for continued success.

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