SEO Trends: The Evolution of Search Results

Updated on November 19, 2019
basix profile image

Nick is a digital marketing professional and founder of BASIX, a digital marketing agency specializing in web design and marketing services.

Google changes every day. They are constantly making changes and updates to how their technology works. As SEO professionals watch and study each of these changes thoroughly to make sure their websites are keeping up with rankings, they may be missing out on a key trend that has been taking place over the last several years that has nothing to do with rankings at all.

Many of the updates and changes that Google is making has to do with search result features. If you look at the Google business model, they dominate the search engine world because they have the best user experience. They became the search giant because they offer users the best searching experience. They have the best results for their users, which keeps people coming back. So it’s only in Google’s best interest to continue to innovate and continue to enhance the experience users have when searching on Google.

This has turned into numerous updates to the search result pages. If you look at what a search result page looked like 5 years ago, it’s vastly different then what it looks like today. Let’s take a look at an example.

Although the search query is the same and the rank we are looking at is the same (position 1), the result is vastly different. Why is this? Let’s look at a number of changes to the search result pages that have taken place over the years.

1. More Ads

Ads are no longer listed on the right-hand side of the search results. This turns into typically more ads showing up in the search results, designed to look like an organic result. Google makes money when people click on the ads, so they want more people clicking on the ads. It makes sense for them to make them look more organic because at the end of the day, they will earn more money.

2. Ad Enhancements

The ads that are showing up also have new enhancement options. Additional site links, star ratings, text callouts, phone numbers, and more all make the ads take up more space on the page. These ad extensions are good for advertisers at it makes their ads stick out more prominently. This pushed down the organic rankings even more.

3. Featured Snippets

Google has found that they can answer questions for users right in the search result page. They are using featured snippets to surface answers right there so users don’t even have to click through onto the web page. That big box with the numbered list is a perfect example of how Google is doing this, and because the size of this box, organic search results are pushed down even further.

4. Related Questions

If Google sees users searching for similar topics, they’ll surface those questions giving the user the ability to searching a new question before they even hit the organic listings! Didn’t see the answer you liked in the paid ads and featured snippet? Here are some similar questions other people are asking. Click here and maybe you’ll like these other ads better. This big box pushes down the organic listings even further.

The result? In this example, the first organic search result is now 1050 pixels down the page. That is 720 pixels lower than it was before. You could have the same exact ranking position (rank number 1) and now be below the fold and getting a fraction of the click-throughs that you would have had just a few years ago. With all of this information being listed in front of your result, people have less reason to actually click through to a webpage. They can get their answers right in the search result page. More and more users are searching for something on Google, getting the answer they need in the search result, and then not clicking through to anything at all.

The trend is that even without search engine algorithm changing to affect rankings, you’re still being pushed down the page. You can see your click through rates and organic traffic drop significantly without changes positions at all, simply because all these new features being displayed on the search result pages.

So the question is, what do we do now?

First, you run ads.

If you’re not already running PPC ads, it’s highly recommended. You can target specific terms that people are searching and get your site at the top of all of these things being displayed. Since today’s ads look almost identical to organic results, users don’t even know the difference. With a strong PPC strategy, you target the keywords that have high intent for purchasing your product or service which will help you maximize your dollars spent to generate new business.

Second, you optimize for these new features.

Outside of ads, you’ll want to make sure your Google My Business listing is setup, verified, and optimized. This is a huge tool for local businesses to show up in these results and one of the many features that has changed the organic result page landscape. You’ll also want to make sure your site is optimized so you can qualify for those featured snippets. It’s not easy to do, but with good site markup, schema, and quality content, you can get there. You still won’t out-place the ads with snippets, but engagement can be high and it’ll help you stick out on search engine results.

Third, you up your game using other channels.

You don’t want to leave the success of your online marketing up to how Google decides to change their search result pages. You have to have other inbound channels in play to help drive awareness and acquire customers. Social media marketing, email marketing, influencer marketing, it all matters. Tomorrow, Google could decide that the first five pages are going to all be ads and you wouldn’t be showing up until page six.

You don’t want your entire inbound strategy based on organic traffic online. How does the sayin’ go? Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.

Questions & Answers

    Comments

      0 of 8192 characters used
      Post Comment

      No comments yet.

      working

      This website uses cookies

      As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, toughnickel.com uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

      For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at: https://maven.io/company/pages/privacy

      Show Details
      Necessary
      HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
      LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
      Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
      AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
      HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
      Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
      CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
      Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the googleapis.com or gstatic.com domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
      Features
      Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
      Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
      Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
      PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
      MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
      Marketing
      Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
      Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
      Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
      Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
      Statistics
      Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
      ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
      Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)
      ClickscoThis is a data management platform studying reader behavior (Privacy Policy)