The Changing Face of SERPs
As you’ve no doubt noticed, Google has started showing numerous results on their search result pages other than their standard organic results. Today a search on Google for actor Leslie Nielsen might show news results about the actor, images of him, assorted advertisements for his films—all in addition to organic results. This seems to be the case, but why should you care as a marketer?
Effectively, this means organic results are accounting for less and less of the prime real estate on Google’s first page. Searches on Google today display a multitude of universal results, including News, Images, Videos, Places, Enhanced Places and Shopping, as well as other results, like advertisements. Admittedly, Google’s search engine result pages (SERPs) are in a constant state of testing, but we can assume that this mixture of organic and universal results is becoming the general face of SERPs at this point.
So, what does all this mean? For starters, in addition to focusing on page rank, savvy SEOs should be paying attention to these universal results, as well.
Organic Results on Google: Not as Many as You Might Think
In order to test the above observation, I ran query searches on a small set of keywords that an average user might search for on Google. While this sample is highly skewed, there are some interesting takeaways worth acknowledging and certainly grounds for continuing this research with a larger data set.
Ideally, out of the eight figures below, one would expect to see around 60-70 organic search results. In actuality, I only counted 14 organic results. Again, while this is just a small data set, it’s evident that organic results aren’t the only kinds of results worth optimizing for.
Here are some of the most common types of universal results (and ads) that tend to supplant organic search results on Google.
- News (Figure 1)
- Images (Figures 1, 2, etc)
- Videos (Figure 7)
- Places (Figure 8 )
- Enhanced Places (Figure 3)
- Shopping (Figure 2)
- Ads (Figures 1-5, 8 )
Testing the SERPs: Round 2
Based on these initial findings and Google consistently producing SERPs with universal search results, we can surmise that best practices for SEO go beyond just website optimization. SEOs need to focus on other channels like video, images, realtime and so on, by leveraging multimedia features in their content via YouTube, Twitter, Facebook, Flickr, etc. Additionally, registering for Google’s local listings will likely become increasingly significant for businesses. Keep in mind–SEO strategy, like aligning your messaging with your keyword strategy still applies for many of these channels.
Next, I’ll dig deeper into the data as well as expand the keywords. The additional research will help determine what percentage of Google’s page 1 is made up of organic search results versus universal results for the average keyword search. In this analysis, I plan to draw some conclusions as to whether these trends are consistent across a large data set and what kinds of implications we can draw from the changing face of Google’s SERPs.
Any suggestions on keywords we should include in our test? Stayed tuned for updates on this research on Optify’s Lead Generation Blog.