Today there are least 18 different ways for a business, or person, to be seen in search results - and that doesn’t even count social channels. Different types of search results include Adwords at the top or bottom of the page, the Knowledge Panel in the upper right, images, reviews, news, shopping, videos and of course normal blue link search results.
The chart above is based on data collected by Moz about how often different types of search results appear.
Ads show up more often than anything else
Adwords (often called Pay Per Click) ads at the top of the page show up the most often at 54.3% of the time. Adwords at the bottom show up just over 42% of the time.
This makes sense of course because at the end of the day Google is an advertising agency. They draw you in with search results to show you ads - it's how they make money. In fact, Google makes $658 per second, twenty four hours per day.
Knowledge panels account for 35.6% of search results. Knowledge graph is the information box often found in search results. On a desktop browser these are located in the upper right corner of search results. They look like this. It's interesting (at least to us) to note that images are shown in search results less often than knowledge panels.
Other types of content displayed in Google
Reviews show up in 33% of search results
Reviews can breathe life into a business, or kill it. They show up in about 33% of search results. According to Yelp, about 46% of their reviews are five stars. Add to this the fact that about 68% of consumers report their buying decisions are influenced by online reviews and you can see why even one bad review can spoil a company’s chances of even hearing from a prospect in the first place.
HTTPS results for secure websites
HTTPS results are secure websites. If you look at our website you'll probably see a little lock near our URL. The website address starts with https instead of http. That means our site is secured. About 33% of search results feature secure websites in them.
Site links are deep links to site content
Site links are links below a normal search result that take the searcher to a popular page on the site. For example, for Reputation X, the About Us and Contact Pages are popular, so they often show up as additional links when someone Googles us.
What about voice search?
There are surely more than 18 ways to portray information. Notice that voice isn't mentioned in this graph. We know that voice is a growing segment of search. In fact, the graph below shows how the term "call mom" has grown over the past three years. Clearly people are using their mobile devices more to perform natural language searches, and calling Mom (and presumably Dad too) is indicative of that.
Since mobile search has outstripped desktop search, and Google is experimenting with using mobile versions of websites in search results before desktop versions, it's pretty clear the direction things are heading. Mobile is it, but Google isn't stopping there. Mobile is just a mile marker on the road to their ultimate goal.
Their goal (so far as we can surmise) is to build a Star Trek like computer. Not only will search be ubiquitous, it will be invisible. They've already come a long way. So while the 18 ways Google portrays you in search leads with ads now, it could lead with voice in the future.
What happens when search results go away?
Like any giant corporation Google exists to make money. They make enough of it to be able to afford to do some extra social things as well. If Google makes most of its money selling text and display ads today, what happens when the world goes primarily to voice? Will Google insert ads into your ears when you make a query?