If you search for something in Google and take a look at the results, you will see that a carousel of images or a group of videos, news, etc., is located at the top or middle of the page.
In some cases, images remain on top. In other cases, you can see the videos at the top, and so on. That happens because of Google Universal Search. Let us look at how Google ranks these features.
In one of the latest Search of the Record podcasts, Gary Illyes, a webmaster trends analyst of Google, has talked about the mechanisms of Google Universal Search and has also told us about what influences Google to decide the position of news images, videos, and other indexes.
In a nutshell, these vertical indexes, like news, images, etc., bid for a position in the search results. Then Google ranks these indexes. After that, each score goes to its respective indexes.
For example, image ranks go to image index, news ranks go to news index, and so on. Then Google ranks them up to create search results.
One thing that you should know is that Google does not rank individual results. It decides whether a set of images (carousels), news, or stories should be shown in the main web results. The contents of those sets are determined by other factors.
How Do Image Carousels, News, Videos Show Up In Search Results?
After Google sends news, images, and other features to their respective indexes, it collects the results that came from those indexes and tries to mix them up. The result is what we call Universal Search.
Each element bids for its respective position. That means the image carousel will demand a position, and videos will bid for their position, and so on.
Some of these elements can also have their preferred positions. For example, an image carousel may demand that it only needs the first position and won’t go anywhere else. Google also provides a preferred position for some elements, like news results or video results.
For example, you can see that related results are always shown at the bottom of the page. This is because that is its preferred position.
To wrap it up, each feature has its different search engines where they get their rank. Then these features say, “I am relevant, so put me here.” Then there is a search engine on top of all these search engines that mixes them together and displays the search results.
What Influences The Position Of These Features?
Google tries to learn what people prefer by looking at their click data. So, if you search for something which does not have any images or videos on top, and click on the Image Results tab, then Google understands that you want images as search results.
It then looks at the click activity of lots of people and decides which feature to show at the top for that specific query.
That means, if Google sees that people prefer image results over videos, it will show image results, and vice versa. It all depends on relevance.