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Google Showing Fewer Organic Links on Search Results Pages

The number of organic, blue-colored links Google displays on its search engine results pages (SERPs) has dropped since 2015. According to research from Searchmetrics, the average has dropped from 10 to 8.5 on mobile and down to 8.59 on desktop. Pushing aside these links are various Universal Search integrations, otherwise known as “them little boxes what show us videos or answers or summat.”

These search integrations can improve user experience and occasionally highlight branded content, but with the side effect of making SERPs pages all the more competitive. Companies who wish to be on page one, or even pages 1 to 3 for that matter, must amp up their SEO game to reclaim real estate in an increasingly heated contest.

All Them Little Boxes

In total, Google offers more than 11 different integration functions, which can include:

  • Top image search results
  • Top video search results (sometimes with one dominant video taking up even more room)
  • Top related news stories
  • Product link ads
  • Google maps results, especially on mobile
  • “Knowledge Graph” results that offer up factoids or salient information on the right column
  • Direct Answers, which work similar to the Knowledge Graph but more pointed and within the SERPs results column
  • Related Question Box, which essentially aggregates Direct Answers and Knowledge Graph information into a collapsed menu
  • Twitter cards
  • App Packs
  • Media listings of songs or artists

While these have had the effect of making SERPs pages more dynamic and (hopefully) useful to those looking for quick answers, a side effect is the collective shafting of around 1.5 would-be organic listings on average.

Images and video results are most common, depending on the query, but an increasing amount of queries that would lead to content views have been cut short by knowledge graph answers. In total, around 11 percent of desktop queries yield Direct Answer responses as do 4.4 percent of mobile searches. Knowledge Graph fetches, which tend to take up less room but still factor, appear in just under 20 percent of desktop searches and just over 20 percent of mobile queries.

Desktop searches are particularly nasty about pulling up images results, too, with over a third of all queries yielding a Google Image Search Results box. That’s a lot of gifs.

How Can Brands Compete?

Simply put: you have to do SEO perfectly if you want to still reign with organic SERPs. This goes especially for non-local businesses trying to drive traffic to content via Google. All content factors must be optimized, especially linking factors, on top of providing high quality content in general.

  • On-page content factors to watch out for include lengthy paragraphs, poor grammar and user unfriendly site design that pushes the relevant content below the fold.
  • For local sites, ranking on maps can provide an alternative strategy, so ensure that your contacts page has the proper markup and that you have accounted for recent Google Possum changes.
  • eCommerce sites can benefit from Product Link Ads (PLAs), which can now allow customers to buy immediately from Google page one in some instances.

Altogether, sites that want to remain competitive should consider hiring an expert SEO team in order to monitor ongoing changes and audit your current strategies for effectiveness. EverSpark Interactive can do just that. With our expertise and constant vigilance, we can work hard to keep your organic SERPs listings not only visible, but more likely to get clicked on in general. Contact us to get started today.