Big news from Google today - Google Software Engineer Samarth Keshava posted on the Webmaster Central Blog this morning that Google is now displaying more results from the same domain in its search results. The effect of this change was first noticed yesterday afternoon by Matt McGee over at Search Engine Land, when he noticed that the Apple.com domain was dominating the search results for certain search phrases. This has now been confirmed by Google as an intentional change to their algorithms.
Previously, Google would not display more than two results from the same domain on a single results page. Now there seems to be no limit. I haven't seen a search query that returned ten results from the same domain, but it's not too difficult to find searches that deliver 6, 7, even 8 results from the same domain. For an example of this, try a Google search for "microsoft windows".
Like all changes that Google makes to their algorithms, this change inspires two questions:
1) Why did Google make this change?
2) What does this mean for SEO?
In this case, the answers to these questions aren't immediately apparent. My best guess is that it's meant to be a nudge by Google to get site owners to make their sites deeper, more content-rich, more inter-linked, and more crawlable. With the opportunity to grab six of the first ten search results (rather than two), organizations should be more motivated to convince Google they deserve six results, with deep-linked content that offers unique value. Note that the final word from Google was this: "We expect today’s improvement will help users find deeper results from a single site, while still providing diversity on the results page" [emphasis added]. Clearly though, Google will only find these "deeper results" if they actually exist on your site.
Personally, I think the most surprising aspect of this news is that, unlike most changes that Google has made in the past two years, this one makes social media marketing a little less important. One of the arguments for social media that's used by many online marketers is the argument for reputation management: by creating outposts on Facebook, Twitter, Yelp, and other sites, you could control more of the search results for your brand. Now, it seems you can do that from the comfort of your own domain.