Since 2018 there has been significant growth in the number of time rich answers displayed within Google’s mobile search

According to a study conducted by Perficient Digital, there has been a significant increase in the occurrence of rich answers in Google search results. The study involved over 1.4 million search queries on Google mobile. The increase can mainly be attributed to the dramatic growth observed in carousels, especially image carousels.

Image carousels increase

Since 2018, rich answers in Google mobile search results has increased by more than double.

According to Eric Enge, the author of the study and the general manager of Perficient Digital, “There was dramatic growth in carousels, which was the primary driver in the overall increase in Rich Answers.” The study identified more than 900,000 carousels; a significant increase compared to the 600,000 seen in 2018. A major contributor to this increase in carousels was image carousels, rising by 151% from the previous year.

Featured snippets still stalling despite the rise

Compared to last year, featured snippets in mobile search results have seen only a slight increase. Despite this increase, the occurrence is still less than the more than 400,000 observed in 2017.

The stall in featured snippets was accompanied by a flattening out of knowledge graph-based results, seeing an increase of less than 0.1% since 2018.

According to Enge, the stagnation can be attributed to the stalling of algorithms used to identify new featured snippets. He also stated that as new algorithms become available, there is a high potential for growth and improvement in the search results.

The most challenging aspect of search, according to Enge, is understanding the intent of a query and matching it with the sites able to meet the intent. This is due to the numerous factors to be considered, including the comprehension of the language used. The inclusion of the BERT algorithm in Google searches is anticipated to improve their capability in this area.

Rich answers in mobile vs. desktop

The study also involved a random sampling of 185,075 queries to determine the occurrence of search features across devices. The results show that mobile devices experienced a higher occurrence of rich answers by 40%. Knowledge graph-based results were also more common on mobile devices than on desktop.

On the contrary, featured snippets had an 11% higher frequency on desktop than on mobile devices.

Implications of the study

The increase in the rich answers implies that less traffic will be obtained from traditional “blue link” search results. Brands should, therefore, aim for position zero listings as such positions are now more valuable than ever. This is because regular listings will be pushed further down the results pages, leading to less traffic for the brand.

The increase in image carousels also highlights the need for image SEO, providing brands with one more way to increase the reach of their brands.

Despite the apparent stall in the growth of knowledge graph-based and featured snippet results, they are still an effective way to attract traffic and increase the organisation’s brand strength. If Enge is right on the impact that BERT will have on search results, then 2020 may see a rise in the featured snippets and knowledge graph-based results.


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