Google’s decision to move its Shopping product from a free to a paid-for service has coincided with a massive decline in the number of shopping results showing up in universal search integrations on Google.com.
A new report from Searchmetrics shows that in January 2012 shopping results appeared in 20% of universal search integrations, however by December this number had fallen to just 5%.
The steepest decline occurred in October, which is also the month that Google made the switch to a paid-for model.
To be clear, universal search refers to boxes containing additional media, which appear between the actual organic search results and can also generate higher click rates.
Overall the data shows that the proportion of keywords with at least one universal search integration declined throughout 2012. In January the proportion was about 86% but by December it had decreased to 75%.