Every search marketer understands that the Google SERP is constantly changing and evolving. Last August, the company released a change that I have referred to as “Google 7.” With this change, Google started serving SERPS with seven organic listings, rather than the usual 10, for certain queries.
In October I predicted that all branded keywords would have seven link results- an opportunity for brands that invest in universal search techniques to dominate the Google SERP with multiple results from a single site. I also explained how the change would likely be a big challenge for sites that were previously ranked between 8 and 10, as they became a part of the second page and stopped receiving nearly as much traffic and conversions. I also predicted a boost in PPC, mainly due to decreased traffic from the sites that ranked below 7.
Six months later, SEOMoz has published a series of insights on Google 7, taken from data collected since the change debuted. Here are some of the most interesting conclusions:
- When Google blends local search results (in a pack of 7) with organic search results (also in a pack of 7), 7-result SERPs can actually become 14-result SERPs.
- Images rarely can comprise the first “result” which consume about as much vertical territory as four normal text-based results.
- On average, about one-fifth of all tracked queries (10,000 keywords) by SEOMoz yield 7-result SERPs.
- When the SERPs include a #1 listing with expanded sitelinks, there are almost always 7 results on the first page.
- 7-result SERPS are especially good for the #1 position. About 80% of 7-result SERPs have a #1 listing with expanded sitelinks.
- About 1% of tracked queries seem to “flip” back and forth on any given day from 7-result to 10-result SERPs, and there appears to be no solid way to predict why this happens.
- It’s not known whether 7-result SERPs are simply 10-result SERPs with sitelinks added and results 8-10 removed. Testing this theory has been difficult and appears to be affected by domain diversity (i.e., the number of different domains occupying the SERPs).
- It’s still not known exactly what triggers a 7-result SERP. The ideas of brands, entities, and domain authority were tested and the evidence was inconclusive.
While this data provides some insight on Google 7, it appears that we still have a while to go before we’ll really be able to understand it. As Google continues to change and evolve, it will be interesting to figure out what triggers 7-result SERPS, what they really mean for search marketing, and how search marketers can improve their likelihood of getting expanded sitelinks.