Getting On The First Page of Google Just Got Tougher

We have been reporting Google’s tests and changes to its SERPs over the years, and the main trend we have seen is that Google is giving more space over to advertising and local search results, and less to the traditional, organic web results. The latest news has confirmed that all of these changes are now complete, and this means fewer organic results.

The latest data from Search Metrics, which monitors thousands of web pages, has revealed that on average the first page of Google shows 8.5 pages on mobiles – it always used to be 10. For desktop searches, the average number of organic results is actually a little higher, at 8.59.

Google has replaced these lost 1.5 results with a variety of new forms of search results, such as news boxes, Google knowledge graph, Twitter cards, videos, maps, Google Business listings and, of course, more search advertising, which now includes local search advertising.

Universal Search Integration

The name given to the new search results pages is Universal Search Integration – this term is certainly not new, having first been coined in May 2007 when Google first started expanding its results pages – you can read one of the first blog posts on the topic, by Danny Sullivan, here. Universal Search includes Google Images, Videos, News, PLA and Maps.

Extended Search Results

As well as universal search, there is also now Extended Search. This covers the Google Knowledge Graph, the new Mobile Carousel (mostly for AMP enabled pages), Twitter cards, Direct Answer / Fact Box, Related Questions and Mobile App Packs.

Related:   Informational Search and Long Tail SEO

Froogle and Google Shopping

One of the biggest changes to hit the retail industry was the rapid rise of Google Shopping. It was initially launched as Froogle, but soon Google rebranded it to the more logical Google Shopping. This provided a way for ecommerce websites to display their products direct within the Google search results, which allowed greater competition in search.

Companies such as Amazon and eBay had monopolised eCommerce, but Google Shopping allowed many others businesses to get their products in front of potential customers. More competitive pricing combined with better descriptions and imagery has helped some niches to beat Amazon in search. It could be argued that without Google Shopping, Amazon, and possibly eBay, would have completely monopolised eCommerce.

Needless to say, the work of an SEO agency has changed considerably since the days of putting a few keywords in a page title and keywords metatag, and then adding the website to a few free web directories. We now need to understand each of these new extended search results and develop a strategy to ensure that our clients’ websites can either appear within these new search formats or rise to the top of the ever more competitive organic search results.

Platform Variations

One of the most interesting revelations is how mobile desktop show different types of search results. Search metrics examined the percentage of keywords that resulted in one of the new search types, either universal or extended, being shown. For instance, 34.09% of desktop searches will trigger an image, but only 14.84% of mobile searches. However, fewer searches trigger videos on desktop than mobile today – 23.99% of desktop searches show a video, slightly below 25.25% of mobile searches.

Related:   Even Expedia Isn’t Safe From A Google Penalty

This is a little surprising, as video is data hungry and traditionally people did not wish to watch videos on mobile. But, with improvements in technology and mobile Internet, videos are actually a preferred medium today – you can consume much more information in a 2 minute video than a 500 word article. Plus, many people are not interested in reading longer content pieces today, especially if they are on the move.

Once again, we can report that the Internet as we know it is continuing to change and evolve, which makes digital marketing more challenging. Fortunately, we have plenty of experience in ranking websites in Google, and with a strong team of PPC, content, social and technical SEO experts on board, we can create an SEO strategy to target all of Google search, not just the organic results.

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