Google Adds SEO Opportunities As It Decreases First Page Organic Search Results From 10 To 8.5

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Since the inception of search engines, online marketers have successfully used search engine optimization (SEO) to improve search rankings, website traffic, and lead generation. It is, therefore, no surprise that half of online marketers, polled by Shop.org and Forrester Research last year, rated SEO as their most effective customer acquisition channel. But SEO has changed over time and today it is more than trying to appear in the classic 10 blue organic links on Google’s first page.

A study conducted by SEO tool platform Searchmetrics, in April of 2016, reveals that Google has reduced the real estate reserved for “classic” organic search results on the search results pages. Whereas the search results on the first page formerly consisted of 10 “blue links”, including description and URL, Google now shows only 8.5 conventional search results. But Google now also provides marketers with new options to generate more Google search traffic through a variety of boxes designed to enrich the results. Depending on the search query Google can display 5 integrated Universal Search results and 6 Extended Search box components which can potentially generate more Google search traffic.

Universal and Extended Search

Within the Google organic search results, there are two distinctive types of search listings. Universal Search results, which are based on “vertical search engines” and Extended Search results, additional boxes generated from existing organic search results or from internal and external databases such as Wikipedia.

Universal Search was introduced in 2001when Google gradually started to integrate the search results of the News, Images, Maps, Video and Shopping vertical search engines in the general organic search results. Google introduced External Search results in 2012. Extended Search results appear as boxes for additional SERP components such as Knowledge Graph, Direct Answer or Twitter Cards. They are not based on vertical search engines but on an analysis of the organic results (for instance for Direct Answers) or on internal/external data sources (for instance for Knowledge Graphs).

Recommendation For Website Search Optimization

Searchmetrics research also offers online marketers a range of best practice search engine optimization tips and additional traffic-generating options to increase the visibility of their websites in the Universal Search and Extended Search listings and generate additional traffic via organic Google searches.

Universal and extended search stats

The full report can be downloaded here (registration required).