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Google Instant keyboard navigation increases likelihood of clicking PPC ads

October 1, 2010 9 Comments

Google has announced keyboard navigation for Google Instant results - and it's another feature that's likely to hit PPC advertisers in the pocket.

The first result now has a blue arrow next to it, which you can move up and down the results with your arrow keys. You can then just press enter to go to the result you want.

Here is a screenshot:

A blue arrow by the first result

A blue arrow by the first result

It's quite a nice feature. However, see what happens if you, say, have a PPC campaign for your brand name

Because there's now extra visual highlighting - in the form of an arrow pointing at it - on the PPC result, which comes before the natural result, it seems likely to me that more people will click the PPC ad than would have done before.

Plus it's now easier to select the PPC ad over the natural one - you just hit return to go to it, rather than having to move the mouse to the natural one.

Here's an example for Orange:

Orange PPC ad highlighted via navigation blue arrow

Orange PPC ad highlighted via navigation blue arrow

More money for Google ... (though Orange aren't helping themselves by not having their brand name visible in the HTML title for their homepage ....)

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9 Comments »

  • Mike Essex says:

    Good thinking, certainly seems like it will punish those with both organic and PPC number 1 spots. I agree it's madness Orange don't have their brand name in their organic listing. Any player as big as they are should focus on their brand as well as keywords on the homepage.

  • Tobit says:

    Furthermore it will put more importance on appearing in the top 3 paid positions for PPC as you can't navigate to the right hand ads. In turn this will raise the competition for these spots and subsequently the CPCs.

  • How many people will actually press enter after doing a search by default after performing a search, when instinct is to click a result? The other concern is how will the arrow be percieved initially... re-affirming the correct recommendation for the result a searcher should click on? (anything slightly different in the results generally attracts the most attention at first)

    Interesting to see how Google is trying to change search behaviour with Instant and now the keyboard navigation.

    P.S. I don't think Orange is losing out by not having their brand in the Title, they rank for the brand and since users spend more time looking at meta descriptions, they have covered that well. Just something to ponder on :)

  • Brett - clicking is annoying. Pressing enter is easier as you're typing. I'll admit, not everyone knows this - I've never understood people who type stuff in a search box and then click "Search" as opposed to pressing enter on the keyboard, but there we are. So I'd imagine more advanced users will quickly get into habit of using this (I already am - it's much easier).

    On the Orange thing, I disagree. They've got a PPC ad saying Official site and a natural result that doesn't look like them. That must be costing them money, surely?

  • We were just having a discussion about having to switch between typing a search phrase and then needing to switch to the mouse to select.

    Current user behaviour is to push enter to get the search result page up (Although as Malcolm says - many people switch to the mouse to click search). I think the real sneaky part of this move is that “Enter” now takes you to the first result rather than bringing up the search results. Potentially this will put bounce rate through the roof as users become accustomed to the change in the site behaviour.

  • @Malcolm agreed, enter for "search" is definitely quicker, was thinking more along the lines of click for the actual results VS using enter. It is something that will catch on quickly for advanced searchers, probably will use it myself. It is going to be interesting to see how it affects the casual surfer.

    We may also get an increase as well for AdWords advertisers and "invalid clicks", hitting enter too quickly with the default being the first sponsored link. Then add @Tobit's feedback, the change is going to definitely drive up AdWords costs to advertisers.

    Re the brand, well, suppose each marketing strat will have a different approach, depending on the desired outcome. Myself, i tend to give less weight in titles for brands that are established, balancing that with the description snippet and the branded domain. They may very well be using the sponsored listings for branding, VS actual sales. Just guessing from my side.

  • [...] take credit for this find, Malcolm Coles first highlighted it this morning on his blog [see: Google Instant keyboard navigation increases likelihood of clicking PPC ads], however it does throw up some interesting issues – not least the potential impact on PPC [...]

  • Because most people have to look away from the screen again to hit enter, whereas you don't to use the mouse.

  • Brett Patterson says:

    Actually, this whole keyboard navigation is a usability nightmare and one that only a complete moron would like. Take an elderly man or woman who have to use a computer to do some search for something (say maybe a store or a news item) and are computer-illiterate. This user may type a search query, hit the search button, and then begin scrolling with the up or down arrow keys. This nonsensical navigation "helper" actually overrides default browser behavior which goes against not only the browser settings set by the user, but also against what the Web is supposed to be (which is for everyone making life easier for older and younger people to be connected in ways never imagined).

    By creating such a disastrous, stupid idea, we take the idea of a "World Wide Web" and turn it into a "F*** You Person Web". Amazing how 9/11 happens and yet people (Google and others) don't realize that just another reason people don't like America and terrorists are created to destroy Americans is because Americans only care about their individual selves. Google Instant keyboard navigation which overrides browser defaults, makes computers harder for end-users, and an idea that was created but should never have even been thought of...case and point!

    If you don't like what I just said, then you are the problem, not the solution!!!!! Seriously, take a year and think about it! Look at America, its people, and what we are doing or going to do, our mind-sets, etc. If it don't make sense, then kill yourself!

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