Friday, September 16, 2011 at 11:06 am.

Google will link to “view all” pages in search results instead of those with “arbitrary” page breaks

Google’s blog post has the details, including options for publishers. (Via Techmeme.)

This is good news, in theory, for Google searchers. And it’s bad news, in theory, for publishers that multiply their ad revenue by asking users to click through multiple pages to read a whole story. (“Arbitrary page breaks,” as Google calls them.)

Google makes this change sound as if it’s mostly to improve its search user experience. But as the web’s largest advertising company, Google has a financial interest here, too, which it doesn’t discuss in its blog post.

Here are my guesses on how this may affect Google’s ad business:

  • For Google’s CPC-based ads, having all the content on one page — instead of spread over multiple pages — may help generate more contextually relevant ads, leading to more clicks. (That’s actually good news for Google and the publishers.)
  • For Google’s CPM-based display and brand ads, this may cut down on overall pageviews — and therefore decrease revenue for publishers and Google in the short-term. But it will also cut down on garbage pageviews, which may last only a few seconds or less between clicks from one “arbitrary” page to the next. In theory, this could make for longer ad impressions, which could lead to higher clickthrough rate or ad engagement. In the long run, that could lead to higher ad rates — or at least help avoid the cheapening of Google’s display inventory.

Again, these are just guesses. I assume Google has tested how these changes affect ad behavior and knows what’s actually best. It may be the “view-all” page and it may not be. But I do wonder if advertising had anything to do with this, or if this was purely a user experience-based move.

Also: Why doesn’t Google search have 100% market share?