Perhaps the most radical change to its search results ever, Google introduced a “Universal Search” system in 2007 that blends listings from its news, video, images, local and book search engines among those it gathers from crawling web pages.
They attract greater attention and generate higher click-through rates than standard search results because the different types of media stand out and are highly visible on the search page.
Searchmetrics studied said search results for millions of keywords to analyse the type and frequency of Universal Search Integrations, turning up with some interesting statistics.
During 2013, Universal Search Integrations featuring video results appeared for 65 per cent of keyword searches, while the total count of Google Shopping Product Listing Ads (PLAs) grew by nearly 200 per cent.
Three key findings of the Searchmetrics Universal Search Study 2013 are:
1. The big rise in Google Shopping PLAs
“One of the findings of our study was the big rise in Google Shopping PLAs featured in Universal Search during 2013,” said Searchmetrics founder and CTO Marcus Tober. “In December 2013 PLAs accounted for around 18 per cent of all Universal Integration types, which appear in search results in absolute terms. The overall number of PLAs increased by 200 per cent over 2013. In fact, this number grew by almost 500 per cent between May and September.”
Previously, shopping as a part of Universal Search allowed retailers of all sizes – even large retail aggregator sites such as Amazon and eBay – to promote products from their sites for free within Google. In the US, Google Shopping has been a paid for service in beta-version since 2012, and available for all marketers since February 2013. Now, retailers everywhere are required to buy PLAs, which incorporate images, price and other information about products in order to appear as Universal Search Integrations for relevant keyword queries.
“With the introduction of paid Google Shopping, users are no longer ushered toward retailer product pages directly from shopping integrations, but are first directed to a page within Google itself, where the PLAs are aggregated. This is particularly interesting because Google is no longer giving free promotional opportunities to sites such as
Amazon and eBay through free Shopping integrations,” said Tober.
2. Two out of three keyword searches are enhanced with video integrations
By the end of 2013 video integrations appeared for 65 per cent of keyword searches, meaning that videos appear for more keywords than any other Universal Search Integration. The study also found that one in every two Videos was hosted on YouTube.
Which integrations appeared for most keyword searches?
- Videos: appear for 65 per cent of keywords;
- Images: appear for 40 per cent of keywords;
- News: appear for 16 per cent of keywords;
- Shopping: appear for six per cent of keywords; and
- Maps: appear for fewer than one per cent of keywords.
During 2013 the percentage of video integrations from YouTube actually went down 30 per cent, but the site still retains its dominant position with no other video hosting site appearing in more than ten per cent of video integrations. Videos hosted on Vimeo and Daily Motion both only account for around five per cent of video integrations each, for example.
“Our study also identified that the average first position for video integrations from YouTube ranks two places above the average first position of videos hosted on competitor sites,” said Tober. “So if you want your video to show up in Universal Search Integrations on Google, then YouTube is still your best bet.”
3. Images are most frequently displayed in Universal Search Integrations
While image integrations appear at least once for 40 per cent of keyword searches, in absolute numbers more images are shown than any other Universal Search Integration item. In fact by the end of 2013, the number of Images accounted for around 45 per cent of all Universal Search content types.
“When organic search results are enriched with images, there are usually several displayed at the same time. However, we noticed that the total number of images being shown did not rise. This may be due to the fact that images are now often displayed as a part of the Knowledge Graph at the top of search pages providing less space for images to be shown as Universal Search Integrations,” explained Tober.
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