The Mysterious Case of the Disappearing Indented Results in Google SERPs
A Shake-Up in the Search Engine Results Pages
Google’s search engine result pages (SERPs) are constantly evolving, with updates and changes occurring regularly. However, in August, something particularly unusual happened that took SEO experts by surprise. MozCast, a tracking tool that monitors Google search results, recorded a significant drop in indented results on page-one SERPs. This drop, which saw a staggering 50% decrease in indented results, happened between August 17 and 19. What does this mean for website owners and SEO practitioners? Let’s delve into the details.
Understanding Indented Results
Indented results are organic search results that appear under another, higher-ranking result from the same domain. They provide users with additional information about a website or topic, and they are typically seen as an indication of authority and relevance. For example, when searching for “Excalibur,” you may see both the Wikipedia page for the sword and the Wikipedia page for the film listed as indented results, as shown in the screenshot below.
Indented Results Drop by 50%
During the two-day period between August 17 and 19, the percentage of page-one Google SERPs with indented results dropped from 24.10% to 12.04%. This dramatic decrease suggests a significant shift in how Google presents search results. Interestingly, this drop in indented results seems to be unrelated to the August Core Update, making it an even more intriguing development.
The Significance of the Change
The sudden disappearance of indented results on Google SERPs has significant implications for website owners and SEO professionals. Indented results are often promoted from lower-ranking organic results, so their absence means that lower-ranking websites may no longer have the opportunity to appear alongside higher-ranking ones. This change can lead to a substantial vertical drop in search rankings for affected websites.
A Long-Term Trend
Although the drop in indented results in August caught many people off guard, it aligns with a long-term trend observed over the past 18 months. The graph below illustrates the percentage of page-one Google SERPs with indented results during this period. While the most recent drop is prominently squeezed at the end, there was also a significant drop at the end of July 2022 and a steady decline in the preceding year.
It’s worth noting that Google only reintroduced indented results a few months earlier, at the end of 2021. The trend suggests that Google’s initial roll-out of indented results may have been too aggressive. However, it’s difficult to predict whether this trend will reverse or if Google will continue to move away from displaying indented results altogether.
Impacts on Search Rankings
For website owners and SEO practitioners, the disappearance of indented results may seem unnerving. However, it’s essential to understand that this change should not heavily impact your primary ranking for affected SERPs. In some cases, if you were ranking below someone else’s indented results, you may even see minor gains in your search rankings. It’s important to keep your eyes open, monitor your organic search traffic, and refrain from panicking.
The Indented Results Mystery
The reasons behind the drop in indented results and Google’s shift away from displaying them remain unclear. Google’s algorithm updates and changes are often shrouded in secrecy, and this development adds another layer of mystery to the search engine giant’s operations. One can only speculate as to Google’s motives and the long-term effects of this change.
The disappearance of indented results on Google SERPs is a fascinating phenomenon that has SEO professionals scratching their heads. This unexpected change, which saw a 50% drop in indented results, has significant implications for website owners and SEO practitioners. While the long-term trend suggests that Google may be moving away from displaying indented results altogether, the impact on search rankings should be minimal. As with any SEO-related development, it’s crucial to stay vigilant, monitor your organic search traffic, and adapt your strategies accordingly. As Google continues to evolve, it’s essential to keep up with the changes and remain flexible in your SEO approach.