Changes to the Universal rankings landscape
We know Google is constantly testing and changing their algorithm, with the goal of creating the best user experiences and providing the most relevant search results. However, Google doesn’t only update the results. The SERP landscape is also constantly changing and has evolved over time.
Marketers must be quick to adjust strategies to accommodate both algorithm updates and changes to the SERPs. Because of this, BrightEdge started tracking some of the ways Google is evolving the SERPs.
Universal search methodology
While we are always paying attention to the SERPs and providing our customers with insights, BrightEdge began tracking changes to the overall SERP landscape in 2019 by evaluating how often Images, People Also Ask, Local 3-Packs, Videos and Carousels were being shown.
This research relies on the total number of keywords in the BrightEdge database across mobile and desktop devices in the United States and compares the number of keywords ranking for each category that month. Doing so, provides useful insights to track market trends and spot outliers in the data that could indicate a major update to the SERP landscape.
OK, we know why you’re reading this post – you want to know how the SERPs are changing. Here’s what we found:
- Images – results appear to be shown less often on desktop
- Videos – jumped for both desktop (Oct ’19) and mobile (Jun ’19), but declining in both
- Desktop – Videos jumped last year (Oct ’19), but declining lately
- Mobile – Videos jumped last year (Jun ’19), and was growing until end of summer…
- People Also Ask – similar experiences, Feb ’20 drop off, slow to recover. More significant on mobile
- 3-Pack – growing steadily since Oct ’19 on mobile, not the same on Desktop
- Carousel – Desktop saw significant increase in July, though still only 3%
Noticeably declining on desktop searches, the image result appears to be holding relatively steady on mobile. Unlike some of the other items on this list, it’s not as clear as to why this may be the case. It could be that a picture is truly worth a thousand words, and mobile users are more often interacting with images when searching than a desktop user.
The number of video results being shown tells a different story. Both mobile and desktop saw videos increase dramatically. For desktop, the increase was in June of 2019, whereas mobile users experienced more video results back in October of 2019. Peak video snippet saturation was achieved in June of 2020, followed by a steady decline. Could this be a decrease in usage during the summer months? Are these results related to school-aged audiences adjusting behaviors during the school year?
With the increase of video results being shown, it’s important to remember that YouTube tends to dominate these results. If you’re trying to own the video results for a particular keyword, it would be a worthwhile investment to optimize your YouTube video and your company page.
People Also Ask
Here, we’ve seen similar experiences for both desktop and mobile where a February 2020 drop-off leads to a slow recovery. The interesting difference being that the drop-off was far more significant on mobile devices. It’s possible that users weren’t interacting as much with this feature, which can quickly take over the entire screen on mobile devices.
That being said, the decrease in mobile prevalence doesn’t mean that it’s not worth the effort to secure a People Also Ask listing. This is especially true if you have a significant portion of your traffic coming from desktop devices. With last month’s rebound on mobile devices, it’s also important to note that February may have seen a decrease in order to revamp this feature on mobile devices.
Google local pack is seeing very different SERPs as they pertain to the local 3-pack. Mobile users are seeing 3-packs more often and the frequency appears to be increasing. This should come as little surprise as the cross-section of location data based on IP addresses and search intent has been influencing searches for years. This is why BrightEdge focuses on the moments that matter and hyper local strategies for our customers. If local search is important to you, be sure your mobile site is following local best practices and targeting key terms that are unique to where your businesses are located.
Google carousel results
The carousel listing is the least often shown universal search result based on our database. Remember that carousel listings are related to: courses, movies, recipes, or restaurants. With such few results to analyze, it’s hard to evaluate just what’s going on; however, desktop users are certainly seeing carousel listings far more often since July.
Google has changed a lot over the years, which is why it’s so important to keep track of what direction their design is heading. We’ll keep tabs on how the universal search listings evolve and update you with our insights as to what it might mean for your SEO strategies in the future.