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Google Search Results is Shrinking!



Google Search Results is Shrinking!

Seeing rankings go from NOT IN TOP 100 to the first page of Google is what we live for as SEO specialists. Thank you rank tracking software!

But a few days go by and you noticed that your website’s organic traffic is still low and it got you thinking – “my website is ranking on the first page of Google but, why am I not gaining any clicks and visitors to my website?”

Only to find out that your website is not even on the first page!

WHAT?! (As we all know, no one checks the second page of search results) This is because some search queries on Google will result in showing only 9 or even worse, only 7 search results.

Wait, you didn’t know that?

Yes, this has been happening since April 2012 and you may not be aware of this up to today. Because in the past, it wouldn’t happen so often but now search results pages are using this as the staple. 7 – 9 results are far more common today than ever before.

Google Search Results: Shrinking Number of SERPs

If you try searching on Google right now, there is a good percentage of results pages that only show 7 to 9 results on the first page instead of the usual 10. This has been first noticed by Dr. Pete in April 2012 which he wrote on his SEOmoz blog

Here’s the graph from the first time he noticed it:

SERPS Less than 10 Results

This just shows the rise of first-page search results that show less than 10 listings. From 2% it drastically increased to 18% within two days.

Another follow-up study was done by Larry Kim, in support of what Dr. Pete discovered. Based on his investigation, he noticed that:

  • 100% of the organic search results that contained sitelinks also had other SERPs features with 7 or fewer organic listings.
  • 100% of the organic search results that did not contain sitelinks had the usual 10 organic listings.

But the data you’re showing is from 10 years ago, is it relevant until now?


As Google never looked back and instead implemented it into more of its search results.

‘7 is the New 10!’

Gone are the days when you will see precisely 10 search results on the first page of every Google search result. This has been the case for a lot of search queries for branded keywords ever since that change in April 2012.

And now there’s a new trend on Google’s search results, this is where it only shows 9, 8, and worst 7 links even for non-branded, generic keywords!

A thing I noticed is that in many search engine results pages (SERPs) nowadays is a rising amount of SERPs Features on every search query. And this has impacted every organic result as most of these SERPs Features have taken over and knocked down some of the coveted organic ‘blue links’ down to the second page.

Another thing that changed the world of ‘search’ is that it functions more like a ‘search feed’ rather than a ‘search listing’. As these two things may sound the same but they are not. A ‘feed’ is more like the idea of social networking platforms, where the content shown is intended to keep users scrolling with endless results. Wherein the concept of a ‘list’ before is specific and straightforward Top 10 results and that’s it.

scrolling search feed

This certainly indicates how the digital world has evolved, at which point users are conditioned to scroll endlessly. The domination of social networking platforms in user engagement and retention has made search engines adapt to it. At the end of the day, both search and these social networking platforms are advertising-based industries that earn through ad impressions.

‘Finding 10’ – Nowhere to be found!

Try searching on Google on a desktop device right now, and I bet you that most of your search results will show fewer than 10.

Here are a few examples you can try searching:

  • Advertising: 9 results
  • Glamorous Camping: 8 results
  • Food Delivery Manila: 7 results
  • Kid-friendly Places in Makati: 9 results

Those are just some of the results I got while testing multiple queries on a desktop in incognito and normal mode of Chrome. As you can see I tried to search using short-head terms and longtail terms, and most of the results do not show the 10th listing in the SERPs.

But also keep in mind that these SERP results and layout may differ in every country so the number of snippets on the first page can change.

Organic Results V.S. SERP Features

As I got curious about SERP Features (events, top stories, and knowledge panels) and how it affects Google search results, I tried to look for other people’s analysis regarding this. I found a very interesting case study done by Kevin Indig, an SEO practitioner.

SERP Features

And the image below is the data Kevin gathered with his investigation into knowing the relationship between organic results and SERP Features.

Note: “1” means the SERP Feature appeared above the first organic results; “5” means it appeared before the fifth organic results, etc

SERP Features Research

The data above also supports the assumption that SERP Features do affect the number of organic listings in Google search results – the more SERP Features appear leads to less number of organic results.

More data and research is needed to fully establish the relationship between organic results and SERP Features. But the research above shows a pattern in its results and this could help jumpstart a full thesis on this topic.

How does this affect SEO?

These changes will profoundly affect SEO. As it is already visible and taking effect on Google search results – however, we do not have enough data regarding the shift of search engines from showing the classic ‘lists’ to user engagement and retention-focused ‘feeds.’

So this is very alarming, especially for SEO companies and practitioners that rely on software in tracking the rankings of their clients. Rank-tracking software does not necessarily display if your website is on the first or later pages of results – so checking directly will be the only logical solution.

One of our partners, SEranking, is working on a solution to show TRUE first-page rankings as we write this blog. You might want to check them out!

Yes, we are still looking at this from an outsider’s view through a blurry lens. But some things became clear:

  1. Go for at least 7, not 10!

    – Being in the Top 10 means a lot less now compared to a decade ago! You should be targeting to be at least in the Top 7 to make your website relevant. Because even the bottom 3-5 results do not matter anymore if a more eminent SERP Feature hovers above them.
  2. Organic Real Estate is Shrinking!

    – Google adding a handful of SERP Features takes up the supposed spots for organic listings in the search results. This lowers the opportunities for you to increase the organic traffic of your website.
  3. ‘Search Feed’ over ‘Search Lists’

    – Search results are much more crowded! The diversity of search results is shrinking. As Google is prioritizing some of its SERPs spots for different types of sites such as affiliates, brands, and marketplaces. But we cannot blame Google for this, as those links generate profit for them – after all, Google is still a business. And all businesses need to grow their revenues year on year.

Key Takeaway

From 10 to 9 to 8 to 7 results, this goes to show how much search results pages have changed over the years. As SEO practitioners we should adapt to this, from strategizing to getting into that ‘list’ to embracing the new format of endless ‘feed’.

We have all known since day one that SEO is ever-changing, but for a long time, we believed that getting into the Top 10 would deliver at least some traffic. And I say that thinking is now outdated, that is why you need to have a very capable and competitive SEO service provider that won’t just help you reach the top but will make sure to maintain your position.

What do you think about the shrinking organic results page? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

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How do you hire an SEO manager?



How do you hire an SEO manager

30-second summary:

  • Business leaders struggle to hire SEO managers, and often wonder if they need one
  • SEO visibility is key to business success and is hard to increase your customer base and sales
  • SEO is a great contributor to brand growth and essentially needs the right mindset
  • This is a checklist to help you hire the right fit for your business

If you’re looking to improve your website’s search engine ranking, you may be wondering how to go about hiring an SEO manager. It can be a daunting task, but with the right information, it can be more straightforward than you think.

In this article, we will discuss some of the things you should consider when hiring an SEO manager. We’ll also provide some tips on how to make sure your team works well together and gets the most out of your SEO manager.

Why hire an SEO manager?

Without an SEO manager, it’s often difficult to know where to start when it comes to improving your website’s search engine visibility. And without valuable organic traffic, it’s hard to increase your customer base and sales. SEO can be a big contributor to brand growth.

An SEO manager can help you identify the best strategies for improving your website’s search presence. They will also be able to monitor overall performance, spot potential improvement opportunities, and create effective tactics to get the best results from your website’s content.

This includes conducting keyword research and creating SEO content, optimizing existing website pages, analyzing traffic sources, managing link-building campaigns, monitoring search engine performance, and regularly reporting on the progress of organic traffic. An SEO manager will ensure that your business sees SEO progress much more quickly.

What responsibilities does an SEO manager have?

The primary responsibility of an SEO manager is to ensure that your website ranks as high as possible in search engine results (not just Google, but Bing, and Amazon too).

If you’re not on the first page of Google for your most important keywords, you’re missing huge sales opportunities. This is particularly true for ecommerce SEO, where a poorly-performing website and SEO strategy can literally be the difference between a thriving business and bankruptcy.

It is crucial to hire an SEO manager who understands all aspects of SEO, including technical SEO, content-related tasks, analytics tracking, website performance, and link building.

They should have the ability to assess the current health of a website, developing plans to improve ranking in organic search results. The successful candidate should also be able to track and analyze performance metrics, such as click-through rates, conversion rates, and bounce rates.

What characteristics make a good SEO manager?

When looking for an SEO manager, you’ll want to find someone who is knowledgeable in the field, has good communication skills, is a self-starter, and can work independently.

Personality traits are key too. The person should be creative, persistent, and have a passion for problem-solving. They should also have good organizational skills and the ability to prioritize tasks.

It is important that the SEO manager you hire is a team player, and can take direction from upper management. Having the ability to build relationships with stakeholders and clients is also essential.

The importance of project management

Project management skills are essential for an SEO manager as they will need to coordinate activities between multiple teams and departments, manage timelines and budgets, and report on project progress.

Without good project management skills, an SEO manager will struggle to get results and could cause delays in achieving desired outcomes.

How can you ensure that your team gels well?

The key to creating a successful SEO team is finding people with complementary skills who work well together. This involves looking for individuals who have experience in different aspects of digital marketing, such as content writing, web design, and analytics.

You don’t want to hire a team of people who are all experts in the same field, as this will limit your team’s ability to think creatively and come up with innovative ideas.

It is also important to ensure that your SEO manager has good interpersonal skills. Having an open-door policy where everyone can easily communicate with each other is essential. This will help build trust between team members and ensure everyone is on the same page.

Having an open dialogue between all team members will also be crucial. This will ensure their feedback and input on how best to optimize the content or improve strategies.

Ideas for welcoming and onboarding your new hire

This could include creating an onboarding checklist, setting up regular meetings, assigning tasks to the team members, and scheduling time for team-building activities. Do make sure your SEO manager has face time with key leads from across the business to get a strong understanding of the business and its needs. This pays off in the long run.

Hiring in-house vs SEO outsourcing

When it comes to deciding if you should hire an in-house SEO manager, outsource the work to an SEO agency, or simply get a freelancer – you need to gauge the pros and cons.

Hiring in-house may be more expensive but can provide a greater level of control and allows for closer collaboration with the team. You totally own your processes and have granular input on everything.

On the other hand, outsourcing to an agency or freelance professional may be more cost-effective and can provide specialized skills that are not available in-house. Many SEO providers will offer types of monthly SEO packages, which make costs predictable and controllable. And depending on the terms of a contract, you likely have the freedom to cancel whenever you like. This can be much less hassle than employing someone ­– a poorly-performing employee, which can be more troublesome to resolve.

  Hiring in-house Hiring an SEO agency or freelancer
Pros • Greater control and collaboration

• Easier to monitor progress

• Assign tasks quickly

• Affordable

• Access to specialized skills

• High level of expertise and experience

Cons • Can be more expensive

• Limited experience level

• Can be difficult to find the right candidate


• Lack of control over the process

• Communication can be more difficult

• Accountability can be less clear

Interview questions to ask your potential SEO manager

When interviewing a potential SEO manager, you should ask some specific questions to make sure they are the right fit. These can include questions about their experience with SEO, how they stay up-to-date on algorithm changes, and what strategies they would use to improve your website’s ranking.

Example starter questions

  • What experience do you have with SEO?
  • How do you stay up to date on algorithm changes?
  • What strategies would you use to improve our website’s ranking?
  • How would you optimize our content for search engine visibility?
  • What kind of link-building tactics do you employ?
  • What do you consider to be the most important SEO trends?

Common mistakes to avoid when hiring a new candidate

When hiring an SEO manager, there are some common mistakes you should avoid:

Not understanding the responsibilities of an SEO Manager

It is vital you have a clear idea of what the job entails and that the candidate has the relevant skills for the position.

Not considering the team’s current culture

When bringing someone new onto your team it is important to consider how they will fit in with existing colleagues.

Not asking enough questions during interviews

Make sure you ask any potential candidates about their experience and qualifications, as well as their ability to work with the team and manage client relationships.

Not setting clear goals for the role

Setting clear expectations will ensure that everyone is on the same page from the outset and that any targets are achievable.

Not agreeing on a budget

Before you start your search, make sure to set a realistic budget for this role. This will help you determine how much you can afford to pay, and what kind of person is best suited to the job.

Not conducting background checks

Background checks are important when hiring an SEO manager as they will provide insight into their past experience and any qualifications they may have. It’s also a good way to make sure that there are no discrepancies in their resume.


Q: How do I find an SEO manager?

A: You can look for SEO managers on job boards, or hire a freelancer or agency. Make sure to ask them questions about their experience and qualifications, as well as their ability to work with the team and manage client relationships.

Q: What should I look for in an SEO manager?

A: A good SEO manager should have experience with SEO, and up-to-date knowledge of algorithm changes and strategies to improve a website’s ranking. They should also be able to optimize content for search engine visibility, employ link-building tactics and keep track of the latest SEO trends.

Q: How much does it cost to hire an SEO manager?

A: The cost of hiring an SEO manager will depend on the level of experience, skills, and services required. Generally, in-house managers can be more expensive than agencies or freelance professionals. It’s important to set a realistic budget before you start your search.

Q: Is it a good idea to hire an SEO manager overseas to work remotely?

A: This depends on the situation. Hiring a remote SEO manager can be beneficial if they are highly experienced and able to deliver results, however, communication and accountability can be more challenging with remote workers. It’s important to weigh up the pros and cons before making your final decision. There may also be legal or compliance issues when employing internationally.

Closing thoughts

Finding the right SEO manager is an important step in ensuring your website’s success. Make sure to ask potential candidates plenty of questions and take into account their skills, experience, and ability to fit into the team culture before making a decision. Consider both the benefits and disadvantages of hiring an in-house employee or outsourcing to an agency or freelancer, and don’t forget to set a budget. With the right candidate on board, you’ll be well on your way to achieving long-term SEO success.

Joe Dawson is Director of strategic growth agency, based in the UK. He can be found on Twitter @jdwn.

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