Lately, there have been numerous reports that Google is showing seven listings per page, instead of ten. These reports have also concluded that more listings are being shown from the same domain names. This may suggest that Google is transitioning away from the traditional 10 listings that they have always done. It also shows that it’s becoming easier for one site to truly dominate the search results, having multiple listings pages of the website displayed the same search query.
These seven listing reports started coming in just a few weeks back. Several days ago, SEOmoz team member, Dr. Peter Meyers completely crunched some rankings by using the Mozcast Google turbulence prediction tool. And his report, he did not document how many rankings that he studied, but it seemed to be at least in the hundreds, if not thousands. Meyers was quoted saying “My analysis came from the Mozcast data set, which is a hand selected set of 1000 queries and top 10 SERPs (10,000 URLs) measured every 24 hours.” Meyers found that about 20% of the results on Google’s search engine now are showing just seven listings instead of 10. 20% is a rather drastic number in fact, since it is about 1/5 of all the listings.
This brings us to the next question, why are they only showing seven listings, and why just 20% of the listings and not all of them? To answer this question, it seems that Google is only showing seven listings for search queries, when sitelinks are displayed with some of the results. The sitelinks are inner pages of a website that display underneath a result.
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Meyers wrote this, “You’ll notice two things right away: 1 “PC Tools” is a brand, and 2 the number 1 result has expanded sitelinks. Not every SERP affected appears to be branded, though – a search for “krill” (the number one result is a Wikipedia entry for the crustacean) also returned seven results for example.”
In my testing, I have found similar results, although it seems to be tied to sitelinks more than it is to specific brands. I have also noticed that some sites can completely dominate the search results. It seems like Google is now showing lots of listings on the first page, all from the same domain. If you search something related to a website, such as the name of a specific website, almost all of the 7-10 results will now be from the same domain. Reports of this have grown even stronger since the last major algorithm update, the Google Penguin update. Google has made it clear that it is now possible for a website to completely dominate the search results. However, it feels like a new expansion is happening with the recent discovery of seven search results being displayed instead of 10. One benefit of this is that branded websites may be able to out rank sites that have low-quality content, since they will be the only domain ranking on the first page.
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Lately, Google provided some insight about its sitelinks and site clustering. Below, you will find a Google statement that discussed this.
“We’re continuing to work out the best ways to show multiple results from a single site when it’s clear users are interested in that site. Separately, we’re also experimenting with varying the number of results per page, as we do periodically. Overall our goal is to provide the most relevant results for a given query as quickly as possible, whether it’s a wide variety of sources or navigation deep into a particular source. There’s always room for improvement, so we’re going to keep working on getting the mix right.”