A recent study conducted by The Markup has shown that almost half of the listings on the first page of search results contain links to Google-owned products.
The numbers have concerned many SEOs and digital agencies, as it appears that Google is favouring its own products and services, and ranking them above those of its competitors.
The Markup report analysed more than 15,000 popular search queries on mobile devices and it showed that 41% of first page results contain Google-related links, almost half of the page. However, when analysing just the top 15% of the first page results, Google’s products were discovered to be occupying as much as 63% of the results. This is believed to be the equivalent of the whole first screen of an iPhone X before the user scrolls down.
An example provided by the report was for a trending search on “myocardial infarction”, which showed that the first four results were Google-based products and services. These results were:
• A Google dictionary definition of the term
• A “people to ask” section
• A Google Knowledge Panel
• A related topics carousel leading to further Google searches
The report found that the user had to scroll to the halfway point of the page before finding the first organic result.
Google did respond to the study and disputed the results by stating that some types of results should not have been counted as Google properties. A spokesperson explained that feedback links, explore topics, quick facts and helping people to refine their searches are not designed to show a preference to Google but to enhance the user experience.
Despite Google actively stating that it is not giving itself any preferences, its priorities have changed in that it is shifting away from driving traffic to websites and keeping them on Google. This is being done through “position zero” results where Google provides the answer to a search query, such as a calculations and queries about fact such as “what is the time in California?”
A way to ensure your site is appearing towards the top of Google is to try and achieve these position zero results, whether that is through a knowledge panel or featured snippet. These will give the user the information they are looking for, and will provide a link to your site where the user can find out more.
For help with your Google rankings, or overall online strategy, get in touch with Engage Web.