Google to Offer Combined Content (Paid and Organic) Search Results

Additional Brand Content in Search Results

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Combined Content Search Results

Google Introduces Combined Content Results

This new patent is about “Combined content. What does that mean exactly? When Google patents talk about paid search, they refer to those paid results as “content” rather than as advertisements. This patent is about how Google might combine paid search results with organic results in certain instances.

The recent patent from Google (Combining Content with Search Results) tells us about how Google might identify when organic search results might be about specific entities, such as brands. It may also recognize when paid results are about the same brands, whether they might be products from those brands.

In the event that a set of search results contains high ranking organic results from a specific brand, and a paid search result from that same brand, the process described in the patent might allow for the creation of a combined content result of the organic result with the paid result.

Merging Local and Organic Results in the Past

When I saw this new patent, it brought back memories of when Google found a way to merge organic search results with local search results. The day after I wrote about that, in the following post, I received a call from a co-worker who asked me if I had any idea why a top ranking organic result for a client might have disappeared from Google’s search results.

I asked her what the query term was, and who the client was. I performed the search and noticed that our client was ranking highly for that query term in a local result, but their organic result had disappeared. I pointed her to the blog post I wrote the day before, about Google possibly merging local and organic results, with the organic result disappearing, and the local result getting boosted in rankings. It seemed like that is what happened to our client, and I sent her a link to my post, which described that.

How Google May Diversify Search Results by Merging Local and Web Search Results

Google did merge that client’s organic listing with their local listing, but it appeared that was something that they ended up not doing too often. I didn’t see them do that too many more times.

I am wondering, will Google start merging together paid search results with organic search results? If they would do that for local and organic results, which rank things in different ways, it is possible that they might with organic and paid. The patent describes how.

The newly granted patent does tell us about how paid search works in Search results at Google:

Content slots can be allocated to content sponsors as part of a reservation system, or in an auction. For example, content sponsors can provide bids specifying amounts that the sponsors are respectively willing to pay for presentation of their content. In turn, an auction can be run, and the slots can be allocated to sponsors according, among other things, to their bids and/or the relevance of the sponsored content to content presented on a page hosting the slot or a request that is received for the sponsored content. The content can be provided to a user device such as a personal computer (PC), a smartphone, a laptop computer, a tablet computer, or some other user device.

Combined Content – Combining Paid and Organic Results

Here is the process behind this new patent involving merging paid results (content) and organic results:

  1. A search query is received.
  2. Search results responsive to the query are returned, including one associated with a brand.
  3. Content items (paid search results) based at least in part on the query, are returned for delivery along with the search results responsive to the query.
  4. This approach includes looking to see if eligible content items are associated with the same brand as the brand associated in the organic search results.
  5. If there is a paid result and an organic result that are associated with each other, it may combine the organic search result and the eligible content item into a combined content item, and provide the combined content item as a search result responsive to the request.

When Google decides whether the eligible content item is associated with the same brand as an organic result, it is a matter of determining that one content item is sponsored by an owner of the brand.

A combined result (of the paid and the organic results covering the same brand) includes combining what the patent is referring to as “a visual universal resource locator (VisURL),”

That combined item would include:

  • A title
  • Text from the paid result
  • A link to a landing page from the paid result into the combined content item
  • The combine items may also includ other information associated with the brand, such as:

  • A map to retail locations associated with brand retail presence.
  • Retail location information associated with the brand.

In addition to the brand owner, the organic result that could be combined might be from a retailer associated with the brand.

It can involve designating content from the sponsored item that is included in the combined content item as sponsored content (so it may show that content from the paid result as being an ad.)

It may also include “monetizing interactions with material that is included from the at least one eligible content item that is included in the combined content item based on user interactions with the material.” Additional items shown could include an image or logo associated with the brand, or one or more products associated with the brand, or combine additional links relevant to the result.

Additional Brand Content in Search Results

The patent behind this approach of combining paid and organic results was this one, granted in April:

Combining content with a search result
Inventors: Conrad Wai, Christopher Souvey, Lewis Denizen, Gaurav Garg, Awaneesh Verma, Emily Kay Moxley, Jeremy Silber, Daniel Amaral de Medeiros Rocha and Alexander Fischer
Assignee: Google LLC
US Patent: 9,947,026
Granted: April 17, 2018
Filed: May 12, 2016

Abstract

Methods, systems, and apparatus include computer programs encoded on a computer-readable storage medium, including a method for providing content. A search query is received. Search results responsive to the query are identified, including identifying a first search result in a top set of search results that is associated with a brand. Based at least in part on the query, one or more eligible content items are identified for delivery along with the search results responsive to the query. A determination is made as to when at least one of the eligible content items is associated with the same brand as the brand associated with the first search result. The first search result and one of the determined at least one eligible content items are combined into a combined content item and providing the combined content item as a search result responsive to the request.

The patent does include details on things such as an “entity/brand determination engine,” which can be used to compare paid results with organic results, to see if they cover the same brand. This is one of the changes that indexing things instead of strings are bringing us.

The patent does have many other details, and until Google announces that they are introducing this, I suspect we won’t hear more details from them about it. Then again, they didn’t announce officially that they were merging organic and local results when they started doing that. Don’t be surprised if this becomes available at Google.

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48 thoughts on “Google to Offer Combined Content (Paid and Organic) Search Results”

  1. I have seen many a times that organic result and paid results appears together . Paid results is always on top. Most of the time I click the organic result.

  2. This would certainly shake up the whole natural/paid (SEO/PPC) targeting. I imagine it’s being considered to combat some of the SERP domination by big brands or well-optimized sites. I both love and hate the idea. I’m a technical SEO guy, so this would make my job that much harder… But the search geek in me loves the idea. Not sure what to think until I see it implemented!

  3. Your articles are always outstanding and this is one of those that have been able to provide intense knowledge about latest trends in the industry. I really appreciate your efforts in putting up everything in one place.

  4. Usually I never comment on blogs but your article is so convincing that I never stop myself to say something about it. You’re doing a great job Man,Keep it up.

  5. Wow, I am speechless… I am really intrigued by how PPC would be managed with these changes. Could it dissuade PPC newbies from trying their hand at PPC, making it harder for PPC to rank in position 0? We’ll see…

  6. Ooh man, this is exciting and terrifying at the same time. I can see this going into testing by early next year.

    Do you have an opinion on the timeline of this combination paid and organic search results, Bill?

  7. Bill,

    How do you think this would influence people’s trust in Google’s search results?

    Paid ads are often less trusted than organic results, would the average searcher be confused by the intermingling? Seems like a risky move from Google. Curious what you think!

  8. Hi Jean-Christophe,

    I think there are some really interesting things that Google is doing with paid search, such as sitelinks and structured snippets. The additional information related to a brand or a retailer that they tell us might appear in the combined content could potentially be very effective. It might make PPC worth trying out for many who haven’t tried it in the past. We shall see.

  9. Hi JL,

    It’s really difficult to say when something might get launched. This patent was filed 25 months ago, so they could possibly be ready to try it out sometime soon. I have seen processes that have been patented start being used the day that the patent is granted, and in some cases (such as the Google Directory), the patent was granted around 3 years after Google had closed the Google Directory down. The patent I mentioned in the post that was a combination of local and organic was in effect the day that patent was granted. It is possible that if Google starts offering combined results, they may want to market them first, and possibly put offers regarding those into place. It is impossible to tell how long it might take them to do that. I could see the paid search people telling clients about combined results, and showing them examples, and launching them with existing customers. We will see.

  10. Hi Vini,

    I have seen search results with a paid result and an organic result both from the same brand. It is interesting that they decided that it would be a good idea to offer combining the two of them together. If Google comes out with this, we will see how well it does.

  11. Hi Adam,

    I think it is interesting that they have decided to explore combining paid and organic results. I tend to focus upon technical SEO as well, but think it will be interesting seeing this put into place, and how people respond to it. I liked that they patent appears to say that they will label content from paid being combined as advertisements. I am wondering how well it will go over with searchers.

  12. So, if I understand right, we should start use both, SEO and Adwords if we want that. And maybe that was the idea which led to this patent, too.

  13. Hi Aleksandar,

    You should possibly want until Google starts offering combined results, and keep your eyes open for that happening. This combining of paid and organic does not look like it will happen until Google offers it, and we don’t know when they might begin doing that.

  14. Hey Bill

    On Kalicube.pro I have been tracking 25000 brands SERPs since mid 2017… I have been noticing volatility in the half a dozen instances I have identified where brands organically rank for a competitor brand search (an example being send-in-blue ranking) organically for “Mailjet”) – the organic result bounces up and down like crazy from one day to the next… and have been wondering why. I thought it might be Google’s algorithm finally understanding that a competitor ranking for a brand search is not helpful since it is necessarily very biased… I like that idea.
    But this patent MIGHT possibly be the reason.
    Send-in-blue also bid on the AdWords for their competitors and appear about 60% of the time.
    A quick manual check seems to suggest that when the Ad is there the organic result drops, and vice versa. I haven’t had time to get the data out of MySQL to check if there is a correlation. But I suspect my initial guess may be wrong … it’d be really cool if this patent were the reason

    Thanks 🙂

  15. This seems to build on the November 14, 2012 patent named CATEGORIZING CONTENT SELECTIONS
    Publication number: 20140136313

    This stands out to me, Google “may combine the organi search result and the eligible content item into a combined content item, and provide the combined content item as a search result responsive to the request.”

    (Google/someone made a spelling mistake: “organi”.)

    Bill, how much of this do you anticipate coming from the influence of first interaction data? We appreciate how sharp you are at following and interpreting Google patents.

  16. Get ready for clusters of organic entities being associated with the wrong paid entities! I thought we were past this sort of hassle as Google’s local product has matured over the past decade away from entity confusion. I would hope there would be some sort of validation feature in AdWords, maybe via Search Console, for giving Google the “OK” to merge an ad with organic content. I know — wishful thinking.

  17. Wow, I am speechless… I am really intrigued by how PPC would be managed with these changes. Could it dissuade PPC newbies from trying their hand at PPC, making it harder for PPC to rank in position 0? We’ll see…

  18. Hi Kerry,

    The patent does focus upon having content sponsors bid upon having these combined results before they might be merged together, like they would bid upon any other paid result, so it they get the content sponsor incorrect, they wouldn’t have a bidder. Here is a section from the patent description about auctioning off those combined results:

    “The content management system 110 can select from the eligible content items that are to be provided for presentation in slots of a resource or search results page based at least in part on results of an auction (or by some other selection process). For example, for the eligible content items, the content management system 110 can receive offers from content sponsors 108 and allocate the slots, based at least in part on the received offers (e.g., based on the highest bidders at the conclusion of the auction or based on other criteria, such as those related to satisfying open reservations). The offers represent the amounts that the content sponsors are willing to pay for presentation (or selection or other interaction with) of their content with a resource or search results page. For example, an offer can specify an amount that a content sponsor is willing to pay for each 1000 impressions (i.e., presentations) of the content item, referred to as a CPM bid. Alternatively, the offer can specify an amount that the content sponsor is willing to pay (e.g., a cost per engagement) for a selection (i.e., a click-through) of the content item or a conversion following selection of the content item. For example, the selected content item can be determined based on the offers alone, or based on the offers of each content sponsor being multiplied by one or more factors, such as quality scores derived from content performance, landing page scores, and/or other factors. “

  19. Hi Jeanne

    The patent you point to is a patent application that has a shared inventor with this one. It is still pending, and hasn’t been granted yet. It appears to not combine organic and paid results (there were two previously filed versions of this one that does combine organic and paid. It may be worth comparing the claims in those earlier versions to see how much they may have changed.

    One was filed under patent # 9,298,779, on March 29, 2016.
    One was filed under patent #9,342,839, on May 17, 2016.
    The latest version was filed under patent # 9,947,026, on April 17, 2018.

    The patent application you point at combines a sponsored result with associated interstitial content . That isn’t the same as combining a sponsored listing with an organic one, but is creative too. It is interesting how they might do that, too.

    MIsspellings do happen sometimes, but I wouldn’t consider that a big deal. Comparing the claims in all three version of the patent I wrote about might show something interesting. I checked quickly, and I’m seeing the first one mentioning entities, and the second one switching that to “brands.” The latest one still mentions a common brand. but doesn’t look too much different from the second version. It is worth looking at all of the claims to see if they made other changes, too.

  20. Hi Jason,

    You are saying that Google appears to have some issues with entity recognition for some queries, with some brands appearing in results for a query that includes a competitor’s brand within it.

    We do know from Paul Haahr’s SMX East presentation on “How Google Works” (available on Youtube) that Google does try to recognize entities in queries as a standard practice these days. I don’t know why they might sometimes show competing brands in results for such a query, but I would hesitate to say that this particular patent has anything to do with that. Google has had at least one patent that looks for entity associations within query terms for over a decade. This particular patent is looking to see if the same brand appears in organic and in sponsored results (so it could offer the advertiser the opportunity to combine both, if they are from the same source – a brand owner or a retailer who sells that brand), rather than whether a brand in an entity is also showing in sponsored or organic results

  21. Thanks for this valuable Information When it comes to Google search, a lot of you may still be working on your SEO and PPC campaigns separately. This isn’t always a bad thing, but it’s good to know the pros and cons of each as well as how they can potentially work more effectively together.In this blog post, we’ll uncover the special relationship between SEO and PPC—and how this relationship impacts performance.

  22. This already happens, on any SERP where there’s “infinite scroll” – mobile is a good example. The Organics are topped-and-tailed with Paid results and as the new page loads, the “tail” Paid results become blended in the middle of the SERP

  23. Hi Jack,

    The post is about individual results that are combinations of paid and organic, and not about a set of results that is a mix of paid and organic results, like people might see on infinite scroll results.

  24. Hello,
    This is nice post for google combined content search results and having right to see you here and thanks a lot for sharing !!

  25. Basically right now in seo only organic way is not very helpful if its is not happen with paid version of work. You point out very core thing of seo which is really helpful for the people. For SERP organic seo is really needed, though paid or PPC can rank up keywords of a website instantly, but this is only happen when you paid for it. Very nice piece of writing thanks for sharing.

  26. I can see how this would both make sense and be irritating, but thinking from the searcher experience perspective, I wounder what impact it may have. Will it deliver a more robust searcher experience that people want, or could there be issues with your regular searcher starting to misunderstand what results are paid for & when? I certainly know there is a portion of searchers who intentionally avoid the paid results & seek out the organic results, so blurring the line on that may be frustrating to them.

    Apologies if you already talked about this, but you get a lot of comments! Didn’t have time to read through all of them.

  27. Hi Derrick,

    It appears that Google is providing these combine results for brand owners or retailers who sell brands who are interested in ranking well based on SEO efforts, who are also willing to put effort forth to rank on the same results pages in sponsored search. Giving those site owners an opportunity to combine their paid and organic results gives them an opportunity to have some additional features that they wouldn’t otherwise have a chance to have on a search results page (see the screenshot from the patent that shows off some of these additional features.) Google hasn’t started to offer this yet, but I could see them trying it out to see how much searchers might respond to it.

  28. Looks like organic searches might lose a bit. It’s another clue to understanding that most of the forthcoming changes impact on those who prefer long-termed work, unfortunately. AdWords are getting bigger and bigger.

  29. Hi Srikanth,

    The image that accompanies this post is a screenshot from the patent showing an example of what a combine content search result might look like. We don’t know if this is something that Google will offer yet, but it is possible that they might since they have saved and filed it as a patent – they have looked into it and explored the idea. We will see if they decide to offer combine sponsored and organic search results, and if they do, I suspect they will show off examples of what those results could look like.

  30. I would like to see how this will affect those sites that have both organic and paid advertising on the same SERP. But how will this impact organic search, I get the feeling sponsored links will get more priority in Search rankings therefore impacting and penalising small businesses who can not afford sponsored content on Google.

  31. Hi Web Design Bradford,

    I’m not sure that I agree with your choice of language when you say that smaller businesses will be penalized, because I don’t believe that Google would penalize businesses that might not be able to afford to buy sponsored listings. I don’t believe that those businesses will have their rankings impacted negatively by the search engines. I suspect that many people might have the same concerns that you do, which I think would stop Google from implenting combined search results like the ones described in this patent. I’ve been keeping an eye open for results like this, but I am expecting not to see them.

  32. Very Useful information provided by you. Really thanks alot..!!
    I have been searching alot about this (how paid and organic results combined by google).

    Keep up good work..

  33. Hello,
    I admire this article for the well-researched content and excellent wording. I got so involved in this material that I couldn’t stop reading. I am impressed with your work and skill. Thank you so much.

  34. Your articles are always outstanding and this is one of those that have been able to provide intense knowledge about latest trends in the industry. I really appreciate your efforts in putting up everything in one place.

  35. Hello Bill

    I really enjoy your article and very easy to understand because you any article though graphically displayed. Thanks for sharing excellent content. Thank you so much Bill.

    I really enjoyed it every time all articles. Have an awesome day!

  36. Hi,
    This is a very informative article you post and you describe also in graphically its very interesting when i read it i clearly found and take out of some my confusion thanks for sharing this article. keep share more article we love it.

  37. Thank you for the brilliant blog. It is impossible to find such variety of information anywhere else. I really appreciate your great knowledge. Thanks for the amazing post. Keep doing the great work!

  38. I see Google heading this way. Structured (Micro) data is going to be a large part of formatting this data correctly for Google, but I’m not sure about mixing the Paid and Organic together. We’ll have to have a good mix for clients and make sure they are using both to get max results.

    I do understand why good doesn’t want to show local search and organic together. A lot of times we’ll see the same business listed next to each other. Google wants to give visitors the best options in the smallest amount of space.

  39. If any time google does that, how mess the search results would be, I cant even imagine the worst effects on SEO guys.

    Anyways a great set of information Bill.
    All the best!

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