Universal Search Study

 

Universal Search Integrations in Google.com Search Results

Universal Search is the enrichment of organic search results by search engines to include additional media. In short: Google & Co are adding Images, Videos, News etc to ‘normal’ (organic) search results in order to meet the user’s intentions more quickly and accurately than before. “A picture is worth a thousand words”, as the saying goes, and a Universal Search Overlay shows much more than just ten organic search listings.

This Searchmetrics study is a follow-up study to our previous analysis, and it deals with Universal Search Integration in Google.com search results, in particular their distribution, number and development during 2013.

Google Universal Search Screenshot 

As it did last year, this study focuses on the following Universal Search types:

  • Videos
  • Images
  • Maps
  • Shopping and
  • News results.

The analysis is based on the evaluation of Google.com search results for millions of keywords during 2013.

Universal Search 2013 Google.com Overview and Infographic

1. The proportion of keywords with Universal Search Integrations has increased slightly in 2013 and was at about 81%.
2. Most SERPs are enriched with videos and pictures.   
3. Images are by far the most common integration. The total number of Shopping integrations, now in the form of PLA, has increased, while Video integrations have reduced overall.
4. Every second Video in the SERPs is still from YouTube.
5. The number of different News sources has increased slightly, however, it decreased again in the second half of the year potentially linked to the Hummingbird algorithm release.
 

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This Infographic is also available in high resolution (300 dpi) and can be downloaded here.


1. The share of search results with Universal Search Integrations increased during 2013

After the proportion of keywords for which at least one Universal Search result appears declined slightly last year, the proportion for 2013 rose again. At the end of the year (December 2013) Google returned integrations for about eight out of ten keywords in search results.

At the beginning of 2012 this figure was 86%, but over the course of the year it fell to 75% by December. In 2013, this proportion remained initially stable in January, then increased over the year to 81% in December. This could have been influenced by developments such as the transformation of Shopping to PLA (Product Listing Ads), integration of the new Knowledge Graph, and the new Hummingbird algorithm.



2. Videos and Images are more common across most keywords

The growing share of search results with Universal Search display also seems to be partly due to the growing proliferation of Videos and Images in the SERPs (Search Engine Result Pages). For more and more keywords, Video and Image results are displayed.

Keyword share per TypeThe proportion of keywords with Image integrations rose from 37% to about 40% in 2013, and the proportion of Video integrations increased from about 58% to about 65%. The percentage of keywords with Shopping integrations that now come exclusively from Google itself has also increased.
Maps and News integrations have recorded no marked developments.






3. Absolute numbers: Many Images, more Shopping, fewer Videos

Share per Type

Looking at the individual elements according to absolute frequency, a different picture emerges. If all individual elements are taken together, Images are still clearly in the lead. With the exception of a short peak for Video, that has not changed much throughout 2013 – although a slightly negative trend for Images can be noted. The situation is different for Video and Shopping plots:

If there is an Image integration, there are usually several individual elements, for example Images, displayed at the same time. The slight decrease could be related to the fact that the display of Images as Universal Search results is now outsourced in the Knowledge Graph, which appears to the right of the organic search results. There is less space in the Knowledge Graph than between the rankings, where the Images were previously displayed.

Shopping elements have grown significantly in number and seem to have done so at the expense of Videos. The Shopping area saw the most significant developments in 2013. Some of the values varied markedly in the second half of the year, with a definitive trend towards more Shopping integrations.

An interesting side note: At the time of the Hummingbird algorithm release (August / September 2013), the decrease in the total number of visual media integrations mirrored the increase in Shopping integrations. This could be related to the general decrease in diversity of search results, already evident in our Hummingbird analysis, and the refinement of search engines and algorithms in general. Google seems to be returning the same Images and Videos for similar searches.

4. “Just” about 50% of Videos in Universal Search are still from YouTube

Google Universal MarketshareWhile the share of YouTube Videos to all Videos in Universal Search in the previous year stood at about 80%, the proportion has declined significantly during 2013.

Even though we observed contrary data in 2012, Google's own video portal still clearly dominates the market compared to competitors.

The reduction in the overall YouTube market share would indicate a slight upward trend for other video providers. However, this is almost exclusively seen in the basket of all competitors, symbolized by the gray line. Effectively, no other provider crossed the 10% threshold.

At the end of the year we can see a 25% decline for YouTube. Nevertheless YouTube still returns approximately every second Video in Universal Search.

5. Fewer News sources from the second half of 2013

As far as the number of different news sources – domains that provide News – is concerned, the diversity of search results appears to be declining. There was a noticeable increase of News providers throughout the previous year, 2012, but Google seems to have reduced the pool of News providers from August 2013 – even if only at a moderate level:Universal Search US newssources

Again, this coincides with the release of Hummingbird, which appears to be associated with a focusing of search results.




Conclusion: Decreasing diversity in media, Shopping is growing again

In general, it seems that Google is boosting the display of Universal Search Integrations in search results. In Google.com the percentage of keywords with at least one Universal Search Integration increased during 2013 by approximately 6%, after declining in 2012.

As for Videos, Images and News, a decreasing diversity of these types of integration in Universal Search can be observed. It seems that more and more keywords will appear with integrations in Universal Search, while the diversity of sources reduces.

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