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Rich answers in Google mobile search more than doubled since 2018, study finds

The occurrence of rich answers has surged compared to last year, according to a study of 1.4 million Google mobile search queries conducted by Perficient Digital. Dramatic growth in carousels, especially image carousels, was the primary driver behind the increase in rich answers.

More rich answers than ever. Overall, rich answers in Google mobile search results have more than doubled since 2018.

Source: Perficient Digital.

“There was dramatic growth in carousels, which was the primary driver in the overall increase in Rich Answers,” wrote Eric Enge, general manager for Perficient Digital and author of the study. The study surfaced over 900,000 carousels, compared to less than 600,000 in 2018. Image carousels, in particular, contributed largely to the increase, rising 151% year-over-year.

Source: Perficient Digital.

Stalling search features. Occurances of featured snippets in mobile search results rose a bit compared to last year but fell fall short of the more than 400,000 observed by Perficient in 2017.

Source: Perficient Digital.

Growth in knowledge graph-based results has also flattened out, increasing less than 0.1% over 2018.

“For a period of time, the algorithms available for identifying new featured snippets have stalled,” wrote Enge. “There is potential for continued growth and improvement in the search results as new algorithms become available. Understanding query intent is one of the most challenging aspects of search, as well as recognizing what sites/content meet that intent. There are many aspects to consider, including a comprehension of the language used.”

“I suspect that BERT may increase their capability in this area,” Enge told Search Engine Land.

Mobile vs. Desktop. The study also took a random sampling of 185,075 queries to test the search features that surfaced across devices. Rich answers occurred 40% more often on mobile.

Source: Perficient Digital.

Knowledge graph-based results were also “a bit more common on mobile than on desktop.” Conversely, featured snippets were 11% more frequent on desktop.

Why we should care. More frequent rich answers may mean less traffic from traditional “blue link” search results. For brands that are able to obtain and capitalize on position zero listings, those spots are even more valuable as regular listings get pushed further down the results page.

The sharp increase in image carousels underscores the importance of image SEO and provides users with one more way to reach your pages.

Although featured snippet and knowledge graph-based result growth has stagnated, they can still attract traffic and strengthen your organization’s branding. If Enge’s prediction about BERT facilitating more of these search features comes to fruition, then we may see growth in 2020.

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