Five revealing Google search stats for marketers

25th Oct 2016

Obtaining a top ranking on Google search is becoming increasingly unattainable for marketers looking to get there without some form of rich media strategy.

The 2016 Searchmetrics universal & extended search study finds that the number of traditional organic links displayed on page one of Google has now fallen from 10 to roughly 8.5.

However, the research, which analysed over half a million frequently googled search terms, highlights the diversity required in becoming recognised through search.

With Google’s upgraded ‘universal & ‘extended search’ boxes increasingly taking precedence over the traditional ‘blue links’,  every search now delivers at least one related image, video, Twitter card, app or knowledge graph as part of its first page results.  

“Gone are the days when optimising for search was all about trying to appear in the classic ten blue organic links on Google’s first page,” said Lars Hartkopf, EMEA marketing director at Searchmetrics.

“Now marketers must also plan their strategies to include opportunities around a variety of Universal and Extended Search boxes, understanding how to create and optimise content which Google will consider useful for each.”

Hartkopf, who co-wrote the research, also found the following 5 important caveats for search marketing strategies:

1)   Desktop and smartphone searches feature different integration boxes

“There are significant differences between Google’s smartphone and desktop results, with, for instance, 34% of desktop results including at least one Images box compared with only 14.4% for smartphones.  This is presumably because Google is trying to discourage image-laden pages with long download times on smartphones." 

Phone results also include more Google Maps and Twitter Card integrations and fewer Product Listing Ads integrations related to search queries.

“The implication is that marketers must understand what integration types Google is more likely to feature on the different devices and use this to inform their content strategies.”

2)   Nearly one in ten smartphone searches include app suggestions

“In nearly one out of 10 (9.76%) smartphone searches, Google integrates at least one App Pack box suggesting one or more apps that are related to the search term.

“If you click on a suggestion, you are taken to the App Store to download it." 

Appearing in App Pack boxes represents a significant opportunity to attract downloads and to transport searchers into the closed environment of your app. Marketers can try to increase their chances of inclusion by following App Store Optimisation (ASO) techniques, including carefully researching and selecting the keywords and descriptions used in their App Store titles and descriptions. The number and frequency of app downloads and positive user evaluations all play a role in whether Google chooses to include an app.”  

3)   Videos boxes feature in around a quarter of results - and YouTube wins

“Around a quarter of search results (23.99% on desktops and 25.25% on smartphones) now include at least one Videos integration. On desktops, 9 out of 10 videos tend to be hosted on YouTube making it the top platform to target if you want videos to appear in search results. 

“On smartphones around 72% of videos integrated in results are from YouTube, with the others from the likes of Dailymotion, Vimeo and Vevo. To boost the chances of appearing in Videos boxes you should create clickable thumbnails of your video content that Google can easily include and use relevant keywords in titles and descriptions.  Adding subtitles also helps (as Google understand text better than audio visual content), as does encouraging more user interaction in the form of likes and comments.”

4)   Knowledge Graph boxes are an opportunity for known brands

“Around one in five search results feature at least one Knowledge Graph box, usually when search queries relate to a person, a place, or other known entities. Knowledge Graphs appear prominently on the right hand side of the search page (and on top of the page in mobile results) and include a collection of facts, images and answers related to the search topic, which might be a well-known public figure, business person or company for example.

“Google pulls this information together from online sources and known brands can have some influence on what appears when people search for them by optimising content such as logos/images, social network profiles and contact information. Having a company Wikipedia page is thought to be very helpful (although not easy for brands to control).”

5)   Direct Answer boxes are a high traffic opportunity

“Google shows Direct Answer boxes for 11% of desktop results and 4% of smartphone results.  These appear when the search engine senses that searchers are asking a question (very often when queries include the words ‘How’ or ‘What’).  These boxes are positioned above the organic results and usually include content from a relevant search listing which searchers arrive at if they are click on the box.  This can potentially generate a lot of organic traffic.

“To have a chance of appearing in Direct Answer boxes, content needs to be well written, clearly ordered, reside on high authority sites and be structured using specific web code that helps Google understand it.”

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