A recent Google rollout affecting organic search results has set the search engine optimization (SEO) community abuzz. Called the indented search results, this change now applies to an estimated 40 percent of the search engine results pages (SERPs), according to Moz. But it’s the possibility of a wider release that has business owners anticipating opportunities and risks and preparing their SEO strategies accordingly.
What are indented SERPs and why were they introduced? How will they impact your optimization strategy and organic search results performance? We will delve into the details behind this new Google search results design shortly in this blog. We will also touch on some on-page SEO tips you can follow to keep up with the update.
What Are Indented Search Results?
You may have noticed that some Google search results look different these days. We are talking about at least two links or listings from the same domain appearing together in the SERPs. The first or primary link is shown like any typical search result, and under it, you’ll find indented secondary links that seem to support your primary link. These, now, are your indented search results.
Reports citing this Google search results change came out around June 2021. But the full rollout only happened in October.
For experts in on page SEO services and anyone with some SEO knowledge, indented SERPs aren’t quite new in their look and feel as they share a similar Google search results page layout with expanded sitelinks. Don’t be confused. Sitelinks are additional links appearing under the main link that add context to a brand or publisher, such as an About page. They can be shown organically or as a Google Ads feature, which you should leverage when implementing pay-per-click (PPC) marketing. On the other hand, in indented search results, both desktop and mobile SERPs show the listings making up each of the results are topically related.
The Anatomy of Google Search Results
Some Google search results look different, but they also look similar to an existing layout.
In The Anatomy of Google Search Results, we take a look at the two SERP layouts in action. The illustrations are based on desktop SERPs.
Why should you care about this new search results design? Moz provides a few reasons, including:
• Its prevalence on the first page of the SERPs, acquiring more visual space for competitive brands.
• Its inclusion of a broader mix of links compared to branded and navigational links. Based on initial observation, many types of listings can gain visibility on Google, such as blogs, product pages and eCommerce websites.
How Will Indented SERPs Affect SEO?
There is general agreement among various SEO experts that websites with decent on-page SEO efforts have nothing significant to change in their strategy. If anything, they’re in a good position to achieve cluster listings on desktop and mobile SERPs (once the new design rolls out on mobile).
But if you’re due for a content audit anyway, you can look at a few specific areas that are likely to be affected by this Google search results change and make some adjustments:
Brands To Benefit From Indented SERPs
While indented organic search results do not replace sitelinks, brands with more effective strategies can up their chances of pushing competitors down the SERPs. They can have multiple listings appear above the fold for both their branded and non-branded keywords – and who doesn’t want that?
Further, as Content Odyssey‘s Alexandra Cote noted, main brands might slow down affiliate marketing strategies as they occupy more space in the new Google search results page layout.
If you are a brand working with affiliates and influencers, increased visibility is good news. But you probably don’t want to lose your affiliate network altogether due to desktop search results adjustments. An experienced search engine optimization consultant would suggest working hand in hand with high-authority, reputable affiliates who can handle the changes, rank competitively, prepare for Google mobile search results update and still deliver external backlinks for your web pages.
Building Better Internal Links
There are no clear directions yet on how the Google search results change groups multiple listings together from one domain. But any legitimate SEO audit agency, like Thrive, would have you focusing on improving your internal linking for topically related content. This is related to Google’s aim of delivering a better user experience (UX). Instead of returning one search result for a query, it is nesting relevant and more specific links to make it easier for searchers to find the information they need.
One example of internal linking that can satisfy search intent is creating content clusters, which consist of a pillar page and several topic pages. This strategy is technical SEO agency-approved because you keep each content page connected under one topic without falling into the trap of keyword cannibalization. There is no guarantee that the topic pages will be nested under the pillar page on the SERPs, but it’s a good place to start.
Will True Ranking Matter?
Having multiple listings above the fold means you are pushing down competitors, even all the way to the second page of search results. This has positive implications for any of your links that haven’t originally appeared on page one, as they seem to be counted into the top rankings now.
The big change is seen currently in Google mobile search results, which do not have the indented layout but rank the indented listings in desktop SERPs as second, third and so forth.
By contrast, competitors with high-ranking, indented desktop results can drive your links to the bottom of page one or, worse, to page two. This is why you need a dedicated in-house team or a devoted SEO audit agency to plan, execute and maintain both your desktop and mobile SERPs dominance.
Lists Remain Relevant
If you’re doing well on just lists, remember that 60 percent of the time, Google is still likely surfacing a different search results design instead of indented SERPs. To show you an example, here’s how Thrive is performing for the search term “affordable SEO company in Arlington,” which returns a straightforward, good old list of results.
This demonstrates there is still value in staying visible, no matter the Google search results page layout.
On-Page SEO Tips To Consider Now That Indented SERPs Are Here
Working with a search engine optimization consultant or agency with expertise in technical and on-page SEO will give you an edge over competitors trying to figure things out on their own. You’ll need capable hands to plan and prepare not just for indented search results but also for all the other SERP updates, including changes in Google mobile search results.
Time, energy and money are also huge factors because of the areas you need to cover to maximize your links’ potential:
• Content cluster creation
• Title tags and meta description optimization
• Content cannibalization detection/prevention
• Internal linking optimization
Strengthen Your SEO Strategy
We’ve just discussed how and why some Google search results look different and provided tips on preparing for a broader rollout in the future.
If you feel this is something you or your current search engine optimization consultant has not prepared and no efforts have been made to build quality internal links or optimize on-page elements, best to find an SEO partner that can pick up where you left off and then consistently bring in better results.
In this regard, Thrive Internet Marketing Agency fits the bill. We are an affordable SEO company that delivers advanced, integrated and timely on page SEO services to clients from diverse industries. We provide a wide range of solutions, from a comprehensive site audit and sustainable strategy development to complementary PPC or search engine marketing implementation. You will get the full benefits of the combined capabilities of an SEO audit agency, a technical SEO agency, an on-page SEO agency and more.
Contact us today to learn more about how we can set you on the path to Google SERPs dominance.