SERP News: Local Pack & Answer Box Both Volatile
May 31, 2016 |
Over the past few weeks there has been an overabundance of volatility on the SERP. Whether it be major tests to the SERP's layout
or hot risk levels
on the Rank Risk Index
, etc., the SERP has been anything but boring! Thankfully, last week saw the SERP return to "normal" as the Rank Risk Index wasn't spiking off the charts, nor was Google turning the SERP upside down with who knows how many alterations to the SERP's layout. I say thankfully, because with the tide of calm comes reflection, and with reflection comes insight. So let's get right to it then shall we?
SERP Symbiosis: Answer Box and Local Pack
Let us begin our reflection with a SERP doppelganger, a pair of two wholly harmonious features that uniformly surf the turbulence of the SERP. Finding meaning in a quiet SERP is like meditating, it requires patience and precision. Finding two SERP features trending along the same trajectory within 10 different countries required tremendous analytic precision, that completely tried my patience. With that, I proudly present to you Answer Box
and Local Pack
, two peas in a SERP Feature pod. I first stumbled upon these two friendly features in the Netherlands, where I saw the two ebb and flow along an almost exactly parallel trajectory.
Local Pack and Answer Box Trends May 22 - May 28, 2016: Netherlands
Fig 1. Local Pack and Answer Box trend along the same trajectory in the Netherlands
What makes the Netherlands stand out so much are not the huge gains or loses taken by the two features. What makes the Netherlands so intriguing, in a sense, are the number of peaks and valleys the two features underwent last week. Over the course of last week Answer Box
and Local Pack
rose and dipped a total of three times. This in and of itself is not exactly earth-shattering news of course. But what is seriously interesting is how symbiotic the peaks and valleys were. Simply by looking at the graph you can clearly see how just as one feature rose and fell so did the other.
Coincidence? Possibly. So I looked into things a bit further and found that Spain, though noting less volatility, showed the very same relationship between Answer Box
and Local Pack
Local Pack and Answer Box Trends May 22 - May 28, 2016: Spain
Fig 2. Similar to the Netherlands, Answer Box and Local Pack in Spain follow a congruous data trajectory
While not exactly identical, Answer Box
and Local Pack
moved along a very similar data path last week in Spain, just like they did in the Netherlands. Both features started the week higher than they finished it, taking a "sharp" (relatively speaking) dip between May 23 and 24, before sloping slowing and steadily towards their weekly lows by the 28th.
Coincidence? Most likely not.
Using our SERP Features tool
, I found Answer Box
and Local Pack
sharing data trajectories in eight other locations (France
, Australia, Japan
, Hong Kong
, the UK
, and the US
Once I plotted this data by using the SERP Features tool, I was able to make an additional determination... this symbiotic relationship between the two features has been going on for quite a while.
Parallel Data Trajectories over Time: Answer Box and Local Pack
Fig 3. France shows Answer Box and Local Pack moving along a similar data trajectory over an extended period of time
As the above figure clearly indicates, Answer Box
and Local Pack
have been data doppelgangers for quite some time. Just by way of example, you'll notice both features spiking between May 11 and 12 and then dipping between the 12th and 13th. The other countries indicated above were no exception to this rule. In general, the other nine countries researched showed a similar pattern.
Answer Box Data Depth
It's like they say about betting on the ponies, stick with a winner, which is exactly what I did when seeing how Answer Box
performed around the world. Intrigued by what I saw in relation to Local Pack,
I decided to dig a bit deeper and see how Answer Box
performed in some of the other countries I had not yet looked at. In short, it was a week for Answer Box
Global Answer Box Data May 22 - 28, 2016
Fig 4. Answer Box levels fluctuate by varying degrees with countries such as India and Ireland showing significant spikes
Showing modest gains, Brazil
both ended the week with Answer Box
appearing in over 8.5% of all queries (8.85% and 8.75% respectively on May the 28th). Mexico
also showed modest gains by finishing the week off with a spike (between the 26th and 27th) up to 27.42% (by May 28).
both showed more substantial increases. Answer Box
in Ireland underwent an over 8% spike between May 23 and 24. By week's end Answer Box
appeared within 25.47% of all Irish queries, a roughly 9% increase. India
showed a similar spike, rising from showing in 19.97% of queries on May 24 to showing in 30.73% of all queries by May 25, an increase of over 10%. Though, by week's end Answer Box
in India showed a more modest increase of about 5%, displaying in 26.30% of queries.
Spotlight on India
Digging deeper yet again, I decided to drill down in to the Indian SERP in hopes of finding the soothing sounds of "sytar-like" SERP tranquility. Instead I found more volatility and SERP shifting.
SERP Trends in India: May 22 - 28, 2016
Fig 5. Numerous SERP Features in India take a one day spike between May 24 - 25
The SERP data out of India last week was downright peculiar as five features took significant spikes, with four of them coming within the same time period. This odd week on the Indian SERP started as SiteLinks
rose from showing in 39.80% of page 1 results on May 23 to displaying in 44.46% of page 1 results by May 25 (though the feature tapered off slightly as the week progressed ending off within 40.81% of queries).
Between May 24 and 25, 10 Results
, Related Questions
, Featured Snippet
, and Answer Box
all underwent a significant one day shift. Related Questions
and Featured Snippet
both underwent a 50% increase before dipping back down between May 25 and 26 and ending the week with more moderate increases. During the same period, 10 Results
showed just over a 6% increase moving from being the organic count within 71.48% of results on the 24th to 77.84% on the 25th, before also shifting down to 72.12% by the 26th. However, 10 Results
finished with a net gain of just under 2% by ending the week at 78.78%.
As indicated in Figure 4 as well, Answer Box
spiked approximately 10% between May 24 and 25, before also dipping down slightly between May 25 and 26.
But of course the peculiarity of this data is not only 50% spikes, but that so many features jumped simultaneously. It would seem, that India was under Google's eye, if only just for a day.
SERP Mind Melding
It's time again to pick the collective SERP brain. The obvious question of the day is why does Answer Box
seem to piggyback off Local Pack
(or vice versa of course)? Is there a true correlation (as there seems to be), if so why does Google pair them up? I'll accept all theories on this one, as it seems like a strange occurrence in my mind!
Will this week prove as relatively calm as the last? What tests might Google have up its sleeve this week? After all, can we really expect two weeks of calm? Keep a sharp eye and let me know what you see out there!