The decreasing space of organic results on a SERP has been widely documented of late, but I don’t think any of us are at all surprised.
I think we can all agree that the SERPs are changing and they have been changing since their inception.
Similarly, consumer’s search behaviour is changing too. The adoption of mobile devices, both smartphones and tablets, is a big contributor to the increase in local searches, but has also contributed to the change in local search behaviour. As a result, a market that was dominated by Google and directories is now becoming fragmented into a plethora of specialised sites and apps.
Then there’s Facebook’s new Graph Search feature. This allows you to find, using natural language, just about anything on Facebook's database, then narrow results down by specific categories like places, music, video games, photos, and more. It’s certainly going to change the way people search for things on Facebook and if TechCrunch is to be believed it’s going to change the way we search for things online.
How Affiliates are Affected
So what does this mean for affiliates? Well let’s go back to the changes in the SERPs. As a content based network our affiliates are heavily impacted by search positions changes and ranking changes.
Whilst we have not seen a drop in search traffic we are already seeing a change in search behaviours. In the health and beauty industry, for example, historically Affiliates would rank high for generic terms such as weight loss or lose weight. However, these results have been replaced with gov, news and merchant sites.
This means that if a consumer wishes to find a comparison of products they need to search for review/comparison based terms. Italso means that merchants and affiliates need to take to paid listings to gain first page exposure.This has been evolving for a while now and is set to continue.
A World Outside of Google
That said, affiliates are certainly looking to spread their efforts across multiple sources (social, video, mobile) and are no longer focusing all their time in the Google camp.
As Google and social networks continually grow and strive to drive investor returns, it’s likely that more and more affiliates will be forced towards paid listings where possible.
However, affiliates are a smart bunch and there will always be opportunities for those with a bit more savvy who workaround this and decide not to run with the pack.