Google update ‘Russian invasion of Ukraine’ search results

Google typically updates its results page (SERP) gradually, by testing out new features or updating existing ones. However, the company may roll out more drastic redesigns and new search features under certain circumstances, such as when there is heightened demand for information about a new topic, like there was during the outset of the coronavirus pandemic.

Demand for information about the tragic events unfolding in may have prompted Google to revamp its SERPs for related queries (like Ukraine Russia). While some of the new features may be specific to the conflict, the company may eventually roll out those features (or similar ones) for more queries, which can impact organic visibility opportunities for brands.

The “2022 invasion of Ukraine” SERP. One obvious distinction between other SERPs and the for queries related to the conflict in Ukraine is the headline that appears at the top: “2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine.”
Google's 2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine search results page on desktopOur research showed that the headline did not always appear, even for the same query (when signed into the browser, compared to private browsing mode). Whether the headline was present or not, most search features remained consistent for this query.

Other distinct search features include:

  1. Estimated losses section– This new section shows details about the number of deaths, non-fatal injuries, displaced civilians and destroyed buildings. In this specific instance, Google is sourcing these figures from Reuters.
  2. Photos carousel – This is distinct from the image carousel that typically appears in the main column of search results in that they’re not Image search results. Instead, these photographs are licensed from Getty Images and users can only scroll through them (users cannot click on them).
  3. For context section – This feature appears in the main search results column and contains articles that provide background information on the topic. In the example above, the articles in the For context section are several days old, which contrasts with Top stories articles and other organic, non-rich results that are showing content published within the last day. A variant of this feature was spotted in 2020.

Our research also revealed that a knowledge panel may show for these queries. While it does not show in the example above, in the cases in which a knowledge panel was present, it included the Estimated losses section as well as the photos carousel.

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