POV

Google takes a big step into answering users directly

Google, with its introduction in the US of an in-page mortgage calculator, is making another step into servicing user queries on-page without sending them to destination websites. It follows their forays into hotels, flights and insurance comparison. These functions have still not yet been released into Australia, but it is a vision of the future for us down under.

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(Note – a long time ago, Google started to give much less weight to directory and other listings sites, preferring to give answers directly on its search results pages, as well as their long-time ability to answer calculation queries in-page. This continues the trend).

The calculator is designed to be super-smart and serve direct queries such as “mortgage calculator” or “home loan calculator”, as well as indirect queries which are more conversational in nature, such as “how much can I borrow at $200 a month” which are driven by Google’s efforts in regards to mobile, contextual search (Hummingbird) and voice search updates.

The primary effect of this on organic traffic will be to push organic rankings for these terms well below the fold, resulting in very different traffic patterns from these results – currently Australian search volumes for these types of terms are well in excess of 200,000 searches a month. There will be fewer clicks to destination websites and less chance to take the user into the site’s conversion funnel from organic listings.

An eventual secondary effect is likely to be similar to that seen in flights, where searching for and choosing flights can connect you directly with an end- provider. It is not known if inclusion in those listings would be paid in some way. This is potentially good for end-providers, who can get quality leads directly from Google, but likely to be not so good for aggregators and comparison sites who may effectively disappear from the funnel, unless they advertise through Adwords.

In the next couple of years, it will be even more important for destination websites in this space to optimise for queries higher up the user journey with the aim of engaging the user and drawing them into the conversion funnel at that point. It should also push destination website calculators to become as functional as Google’s appears to be.

Source: https://plus.google.com/+google/posts/cQGAmBX2wv2

Author: Jeremy Beckett, Director and SEO Product Lead, Resolution Media Australia