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Universal Search 2018: 5 Facts for Online Marketers

8 pints in a gallon, 14 pounds in a stone and 10 organic results on the Google SERP. That’s how it used to be: 10 organic results, each with meta description, title and link. Weights and measures haven’t changed much lately but how many organic search results do we have today? Searchmetrics’ new Universal Search study reveals the answer – and provides online marketers with further insights into the state of the Google SERPs in 2018. Download the study for free here:

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Five Facts on the State of Google SERPs in 2018

Here we go.

What once was 10 organic results has become 8.5

A few years ago, Google was all about the ten blue links on the first search results page. That was where online marketers and SEOs wanted to be, and that was their path to increasing organic traffic. Today, there are, on average, just 8.5 results in mobile search results. On desktop, this is slightly higher, at 8.7. Fewer traditional links means marketers should be looking at Universal Search as a valuable alternative source of organic traffic.

Just keep scrolling, scrolling, scrolling

You know those search results on mobile, where you have to scroll and scroll before you get to the first organic result? Try Googling “dating” on your smartphone. What do you see? A knowledge graph, videos, related searches, related questions, news, mobile apps, maps…notice anything missing? Somewhere in there, after scrolling down a few times, you might be lucky enough to spot a traditional organic search result.

This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. These different Universal Search integrations open up new opportunities for generating organic traffic. It’s just got more complicated than targeting 10 blue links. Know where you can find out which Universal Search integrations you should optimize for? In our whitepaper:

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A third of results include a Knowledge Graph

Google is behaving more and more like Wikipedia, as 1 in 3 search results pages now includes a Knowledge Graph. This is confirmation that users are responding positively to widgets, which is extremely prominent on mobile devices, being displayed above the other search results. And Knowledge Graphs are complex. They don’t simply contain short information on entities, they also include related links or topics that can lead back to another Google search and new search results.

Direct Answers are going down

With Voice Search on devices like Google Home, the answers read out often come from featured snippets. However, the number of searches that return an answer container on the search results pages on mobile devices is actually dropping. This trend may surprise SEO and online marketing professionals who haven’t been able to escape proclamations of Direct Answers being the great new opportunity for boosting free, organic traffic. What the trend shows is that users weren’t always happy with the results shown in answer boxes – which could be irrelevant, out-of-date or even fake news – and so Google is more often letting users choose their own best answer.

Even more videos from Google’s in-house YouTube

The number of videos in the SERPs has fallen slightly, but one provider keeps growing its presence. The proportion of integrated videos that come from YouTube has risen to 92%. Accordingly, the competition is thin on the ground. YouTube’s dominance leaves challengers like, and to fight over the scraps of the remaining 8%.

Detailed Universal Search data and other insights into the State of Google SERPs in 2018 can be found in our whitepaper, which you can download for free here:

Universal Search Whitepaper