The Dwindling SERP

search-engine-results-page-serpIf you can think back a few years, you’ll remember what it was like to search for something on Google. Once you hit enter, you were given a page of up to 10 results, all presented the same way. You had options. Once 2014 hit, we saw these numbers shrinking. Now, you’ve probably become accustomed to seeing a result page with as little as four options. This mean that your website is having to compete for even less space than there was before, and that’s aside from paid links. Organic results are almost half.

In light of Google SERPs update last year that changed the way you see “in the news” results, we can see a pattern beginning to form determining just how many results we see on our search engine page.

The pattern shows that if there is a higher presence of News results, then the organic results lessen. Chances are you have seen this happening but weren’t necessarily sure of the impact or “science” behind it. Aside from News results taking up organic positions, positions that your website could potentially occupy, image results are also taking up these coveted spots.

But wait, there’s more.

Did you ever notice the way extended site links appear under the top search result? Depending on the query, one website could be a standout for that search, with the information expanded to include links to other pages on said website. Well, each row of these links, which usually come in 7 packs, takes up an organic position.


Google has also been redesigning the way articles are presented to us. Before this, each type of result was clearly labeled as so; article, in the news, paid, etc. Now, the lines have been blurred to make all results appear to be organic. They’ve gone as far as removing thumbnail images and bylines, so all results look the same. Can you tell which are organic? If you said no, you’re not alone.

The trend is far-reaching, even affecting mobile result pages. On a result page that should have 7 or 9 organic positions, there are only 3 positions left for organic results. The rest are expanded site links, News results, in-depth articles, and even a Wikipedia definition.

So where does this leave us?

Well, it seems like Google has no intention of making a change in favor of organic results, and if anything the available positions are continuously shrinking. We’re being forced to expand our SEO efforts as true organic prospects are diminishing each day.