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Optimizing for Google Universal and Extended Search
11 October 2016
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SEO software vendor SearchMetrics has published an in-depth analysis of how Google SERPs have evolved to include Universal and Extended Search, with recommendations for optimization strategies.

The Big Idea:

Today, in addition to organic results, Google SERPs now include paid ads and numerous boxes of different kinds that marketers can use to generate traffic.

Analysis centered on trying to answer 4 questions:

  1. How many organic results currently appear on page 1 of Google search returns?
  2. What important boxes appear?
  3. How are boxes distributed in hit lists?
  4. How can marketers optimize their Web sites for these boxes?

Key results from searches on 500,000 popular search terms:

  • For mobile search, Page 1 has on average 8.5 organic results, desktop search 8.6.
  • Searches on between 0.17% (Carousel box) and 34.09% (Images box) of keywords produce one or more boxes on Page 1.
  • Image, PLA (Shopping), Direct Answer and Fact boxes are displayed more often on desktops; Map, Related Question and Twitter Card boxes are displayed more often on mobile devices.
  • The share of searches producing videos on Page 1 was about 25% for both desktop and mobile. On desktop, 90% of videos displayed were YouTube videos, vs. 72% on mobile devices.

Recommendations for optimization for boxes:

  • Google Images
    • Use relevant, keyword-rich filenames, titles and alts.
    • File size needs to be a compromise between quality and loading speed.
    • Integrate images into the XML sitemap.
  • Google News
    • Publish a new post at least every 2 days.
    • Create a Google News sitemap.
    • Important attributes: trustworthiness of source, currency, keywords, length
  • Google Video
    • Clickable thumbnail
    • Title optimized and attention-getting
    • Good description
    • Tags
    • Subtitles
    • Motivate people to like and comment.
    • Play length is important.
  • Google Direct Answers
    • markup
    • Domain trust/authority via links
    • Subheadings, bullets, etc. for better user experience
    • Clear use of names, locations, terms
  • Knowledge Graph
    • Especially important for brands
    • Logos/images
    • Contact information
    • Social network profiles
    • “Google My Business” page
    • Company page on Wikipedia
  • Google Maps / Local
    • Extensive and relevant Google My Business site
    • City and keyword in page title and company name
    • Many evaluations and mentions
  • Mobile App Packs
    • Keywords in Title and Description
    • In-store download numbers and frequency, evaluations, updates, links, social signals

Good stuff. I’m sure SearchMetrics would be happy to demo for anyone how their software suite can help with the above. (FYI, this is not an endorsement, and I’m not getting any kind of piece of their action. I just appreciate their acquiring and publishing all this useful information.)

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