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Universal Search 2015: An Analysis of

The annual average for 2014: Google has enriched 80% of all keyword queries with additional integrations of the Universal Search. Once again, we have  analyzed the precise developments according to absolute and relative growth for Videos, Images, News, Maps and Shopping this year, which we present  in a new white paper that is free to download.

Why this matters? It’s important to know what’s going on with Universal Search, because the more real estate you own on the search results page, the more traffic you can drive to your website.

Universal Search 2015 Title

There is a huge number of Universal Search elements that are implemented by Google in the search results. This enrichment of SERPs is also called “Blended Search” – or “Blended Ranks,” referring to the position for the integrations on the results page.

Download Universal Search Study

Universal Search throughout 2014

For this analysis of the ‘enriched’ search results, as in previous years, we have concentrated on the five most important integrations:

  • Videos
  • Images,
  • Shopping (Product Listing Ads),
  • Maps and
  • News.

Since 2009, we have been continuously analyzing the embedment of Universal Search elements into the Google SERPs. But for those of you who would like to have some basic definitions or further information: What is Universal Search?

Universal Search can be an important factor for website operators, as, depending on the user intention, such boxes with further media generally lead to higher click rates and traffic. All answers and data on the development of Universal Search integrations in the US Google search results over the past year can be found in the white paper.

About 80% of all Google Search Results are Enriched

Keyword-Share with Universal-Search-IntegrationsThe basis for the study of Universal Search are the search results for many millions of keywords that we have been continuously observing since 2009. From this big data analysis, we were able to make the following findings: The share of keywords with at least one Universal Search integration has remained pretty constant compared to the previous year. Where in January 2014, 82 percent of all search results showed a Universal Search snippet, by December 2014 we found 79 percent.

Google Shopping is the Winner of Universal Search

Since the launch of Google Shopping at the beginning of 2013, the integrations have strongly increased. Google Shopping (a.k.a Product Listing Ads, or PLAs for short), are often included at the top of the search results for transactional keywords.

They offer numerous ads by resellers for search queries of corresponding products – including a photo, link, reseller name and price. Unlike the often text-heavy AdWords adverts, the PLAs are always image-based.

Difference Google Shopping (PLA) vs. AdWords:

Google Shopping (PLA) vs. AdWords

In this year’s Universal Search study, Google Shopping can be considered the clear winner. Based on the absolute figure of integrations, the PLAs increased by 118 percent. Furthermore, the share of keywords with at least one PLA integration has more than doubled and rose from seven percent at the start of 2014 to almost 16 percent in December.

Google Shopping PLA Growth

Integration of PLAs througout 2014

The veritable ‘crash’ of PLA integrations is notable and interrupted the strong growth in the first half of the year. We address this topic in an upcoming follow-up study, which will be available in the coming weeks.

Download Universal Search Study

Video Integrations: YouTube Dominates

We wanted to know which integration is returned most often in search results. The result is clear, even if the tendency is a decline: Where, in January 2014, 66 percent of all keywords still returned at least one video integration, the share fell to 55 percent by December 2014.

Video Integrations: YouTube-ShareHowever, there was a clear upward trajectory relating to video integrations – YouTube’s share. The integrations of videos by the Google subsidiary rose to 82 percent. Therefore, in 2014, eight out of ten videos that were played in the ‘enriched’ search results came from YouTube. In our previous investigation, the value was at 54 percent in 2013.

The rise of YouTube videos in the Universal Search integrations is connected to the decline in market share of other video providers.

Further Results from Universal Search 2015

  • Maps are delivered for more and more keywords
  • The share of images remains almost constant
  • Thanks to the growing distribution of the knowledge graph, images often leave their position between the organic results and move to the top of the knowledge graph
  • News integrations hardly develop; the diversity of the delivering providers slightly decreased

Infographic Universal Search 2015

Each year, we offer an infographic on the main factors of Universal Search. Get the complete graphic by clicking on the snippet:

Download Universal Search 2015 Infographic



More Maps, more Shopping, more YouTube

In 2014, Google has consistently enriched nearly 80% of all keyword queries with additional integrations of Universal Search. While several trends have remained constant in our new study compared to previous years, we have been able to recognize a clear winner: Google itself.

There is a rapid upward trend, above all when it comes to the Product Listing Ads. Even though videos were able to maintain their pole position, the share of keywords with at least one video integration fell over the course of the year to 55 percent. However, the ‘market share’ of the Google subsidiary YouTube did rise. Eight out of ten videos came from YouTube – meaning, platforms that compete picked the short straw.

Download Universal Search Study

Furthermore, significantly more keywords show an integration of Google Maps in comparison to a year ago. This is probably due to the rising importance of local and mobile search queries: Websites with a local focus were able to benefit.

By the way, if you want to analyze the performance in Universal Search for your own website, please check out our Searchmetrics Suite at:

If you have any comments on Universal Search or this year’s study, please leave us a comment!

Daniel Furch

Daniel Furch

Daniel was Director of Marketing EMEA at Searchmetrics. Among other things, Daniel was responsible for implementing and executing the regional marketing strategy, as well as enabling cross-team coordination and communication.

6 thoughts on “Universal Search 2015: An Analysis of

  • More product listing ads are displayed rather than text ads. More news, videos are coming in Google universal search results.

  • When I read between the lines of the above data it just screams that Google is making a blatant play to line it’s pockets. You can’t blame a company for doing that, however in the past they where more cautious about how they manipulated the algorithm to benefit themselves. The changes could be viewed as an attempt to generate a better search result for the ultimate end use of the Google search engine. While at the same time frustrating businesses to the point that they where willing to pay for adwords campaigns. This change out right benefits Youtube and Google shopping. I guess they are feeling more comfortable in their #1 ranking position.

  • I have to agree with Brad. You can’t blame a company, which are taking advantage of own product. Google wants to grow as much as any other company, why shouldn’t they take advantage their product to make Google Shopping.

  • It was only a matter of time before Google started to make PLAs more prominent. Advertisers are still willing to pay a premium to take up more real estate on the SERP. I’d be interested to see where Google will take video products on the SERP.

  • Luciano Bellacci 2015/10/25 at 2:52 pm

    Great article. Thx for inputs!

  • Great job Brad. Very interesting facts!

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