After making significant changes to their algorithm in the past few months, Google has reintroduced indented search results. In this article, we are going to talk about what indented search results are, and how they impact your rankings.
What are Indented Search Results?
Indented search results are search snippets that show additional pages from a domain that Google thinks are relevant to the search query. Any website owner or digital marketer loves to show up on the first page of Google, now you can have multiple pages being displayed in search results even if only one of your pages actually ranks that high.
These additional search results show up under your website’s main search listing for a given query. The search algorithm will now target pages with related content/keywords to the search query and display them underneath your main search result.
Google is always trying to show the most relevant content. Indented results allow Google to group together similar pages from a website to better address a query. Indented results are completely different from featured snippets (they are not a product of structured data) and are NOT the same as site links.
What do Indented Search Results Look Like?
So what do indented search results look like?
Let’s take a look at the results for the search query, ‘best watches for men’:
We see the main search result from gq.com for the page, ‘Best Watches for Men on Amazon’ and underneath it we see the intended snippet of a related page on gq.com (‘20 Best Gold Watches for Men in 2021’). It is slightly indented to the right, hence the name ‘indented search results’.
The page ‘Best Watches for Men on Amazon’ is the one that is ranking on the first page on Google. The page, ‘20 Best Gold Watches for Men’ does not rank for page 1, but Google has chosen to display it as an indented search result under GQ’s main search result.
I did not enter the word ‘gold’ into my query. But Google has determined that ‘20 Best Gold Watches for Men’ is highly relevant to my search, which it is. Thanks to indented search results gq.com just got an extra page to show up on the first page of Google.
The benefits are twofold. Not only does this increase the likelihood that users searching for this keyword will click through to their website, but the additional result(s) also takes up precious space on Google, leaving less for GQ’s competitors. (There are now only 9 websites in these search results instead of 10.)
When Did Google Add Indented Search Results?
Since July 2021 Google has been testing indented search results, but indented search results have been around for a long time. In fact, Google first toyed with the concept back in 2008.
How Many Indented Search Results Can I Get?
Initially, domains would only be able to get one indented search snippet in July 2021. But now, in October, domains can have multiple pages selected for indented searches for the same search query.
Below we can see that rcdso.org, the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario, has 3 indented searches displayed for the query ‘how to be a dentist in Ontario.”
Every page chosen for the intended search snippet is highly relevant to the query. Since the query is about becoming a dentist in Ontario, all the intended results are pages that focus on learning to become a dentist.
Notice the order of the indented pages from top to bottom.
- The first indented result is for a page about the Royal College of Dental Surgeons of Ontario (RCDSO), a page you would want to look at if you wanted to receive dental training (as the query implies).
- That page is followed by the ‘Process and Requirements’ page which details what is needed to get certified by RCDSO
- Under that is a page about working as a dentist in Ontario. Again, very relevant
Without indented results, these pages would not be appearing on the first page of Google, only the ‘Find a Dentist’ page would be shown which is not actually relevant to the search query. The user who would be typing in the query would be more likely to click on stonegatedental.ca’s article instead of rcdso.ca if there were no intended results being displayed.
It is important to note that indented results do not seem to work for mobile-based searches at the moment, but expect that to change in the future.
Why Are Indented Search Results Important for SEO?
Recent reporting has found that about 40% of all indented searches appear on page 1. The feature is still new so this data may change over time, but it indicates that Google is making a concerted effort to provide more relevant answers to user queries at the top of the search results page.
Just like with feature snippets becoming more common (especially on page 1), the move to implement indented searches is part of Google’s drive to reduce the time and effort needed to find answers.
These search results will reduce the diversity of websites that appear on the results page, with the biggest impact on those sites which currently rank near or at the bottom of page 1. Lower ranking sites will be pushed down the page or off the front page entirely when indented results are displayed.
Space on Google’s first page is a hot commodity, by taking advantage of indented search results you can increase your click-through rate and push out your closest competitors. However, you might end up being the one getting pushed out of lucrative spots on search result pages if your domain is not ranking high enough for your most important keywords.
Indented search results have only raised the stakes when it comes to ranking in Google search. Getting your website to rank for positions 5-1 in Google search is more important than ever before since indented results will lead to significantly fewer domains being displayed at one time. Optimizing for indented searches can double, triple and even quadruple your coverage on the first page of the search results. Consider that the average search results page has 10 blue links, so getting four indented results effectively pushes 4 competitors off the page!
In other words, the websites that are already following best SEO practices will get the most benefit since they already rank high enough to get the indent. This means they will push out competitors and gain the extra clicks as a result.
Those sites which are not currently ranking well will now need to compete with extra results displayed above the fold before the user scrolls down to their search listing.
Indented search results make it harder to carve out your own space on page 1 if you are not there already.
How to Optimize for Indented Searches
This feature is quite new and so there is not a lot of data or reporting about what actions website owners and digital marketers should take to make their pages eligible for indented searches.
Here are some things you can do to increase the chances that pages on your website are selected.
To start, check which of your web pages are currently ranking on page one of Google and if they already have indented results showing up. If they do, note the relationship between the kinds of pages being chosen.
- Do these pages each address something different for the same topic/keyword?
- Do they interlink?
- Are they more relevant to the query than the page they are indented under?
- Do they provide valid options for the user based on the search query?
These questions will help you look deeper into why that content was chosen for the search.
If you don’t have any pages showing up as indented results there are a few things you can do to increase the likelihood that Google selects them in the future.
Making sure related pages are interlinking to and from each other is a good strategy, however you should already be doing this on your website.
You should ensure that pages covering similar topics target keywords and syntax with different user intent.
- Check what keywords you rank for on page one.
- Then look at related pages on your website (that do not rank on page one) and edit their content to help address or answer questions involving that keyword.
- When optimizing for indented search results, think about what kind of questions each page can answer that a user might be asking, and seek to address them in your content.
- Try to ensure that each page focuses on a different search intent for that keyword, answering specific questions related to that intent.
By focusing on user intent, you increase the chances that your content will get displayed as indented search results, especially for more ambiguous searches where Google can’t figure out the search intent.
It is important to note that having many pages that target the same keyword could result in keyword cannibalization. If you want to ensure that you are optimizing for indented searches without risking keyword cannibalization, speak with the SEO experts at TechWyse Internet Marketing at 866.208.3095 or contact us online. We have the tools, technical knowledge and tenacity to help you climb in rankings and grow your brand.