Changes to Search Results Pages
Google has been about now for nearly 20 years. Over that time, there has been a general, increasing trend in the number of searches made, and organic traffic sent to websites via search results.
There has always been an increased opportunity to rank in Google search, until recently … !
Here are some of the features that Google has introduced, which actually make SEO both more competitive, and more difficult.
Answer Boxes – Often, now, when searching for a question, Google will provide an answer box in one of two forms.
Featured Snippet – This could earn a click through to your site, but is much less likely than a traditional organic search result. The user may find the information they wanted within the box, and not actually click through to the website:
A Google Answer Box – Sometimes, Google provides answers to commonly-asked questions itself. These greatly reduce organic search traffic, and the desired information is provided to the searcher, without a link being shown to the full article:
Google is also moving into popular commercial spaces – For example, jobs, flights, cinema listings are also provided by Google. Being such a respected company, a lot of users will value the Google response, over other organic search listings further down. Again this reduces the amount of traffic that site owners may receive:
Local Search Results Pages are being used increasingly often. These types of searches display business information, but Google has made it more difficult to reach the company website from such listings:
All of these factors combined highlight how Google is moving towards different methods for answering users’ search queries. This has enhanced the searcher’s user experience. Answers can be found more quickly, saving the number of clicks a user has to make. Users can be targeted based on their location, through local search results.
However, as Digital Marketers looking to increase web traffic for our businesses or clients’ businesses, we must re-think some of our strategies slightly.
Solutions for Marketers
Focus on the brand – Taking Mahon Digital for example. Potential customers might ask Google questions such as ‘What is SEO?’, ‘Should I use Google Ads?’ ‘How do I advertise on Facebook?’ etc. Google is likely to provide search answers in the form of featured snippets or answer boxes. It is, therefore, getting more and more difficult to rank for such search terms organically. However, the brand name ‘Mahon Digital Marketing’ will not have organic results taken away by Google. Mahon Digital, just like any other business, should focus efforts on building up a recognised brand name, or branded products, enabling continual ranking for these keywords.
There are a range of methods for developing brand awareness, such as Facebook paid advertising campaigns, Google display network advertising, and sharing of branded content via social media, blog posts or email.
Optimise for other channels – Google image search and Youtube in particular account for a huge proportion of Google search results. Marketers should look at targeting these platforms in order to increase their share of search results.
Creating informative, keyword-focused ALT attributes can help with image search visibility. People searching for images do quite often proceed to visit the website on which they are hosted.
A Youtube channel is a great way for businesses to engage with their customers, by providing informative, entertaining content. This may be shared, or visitors may navigate on to the website having seen a video they enjoy. Properly optimised videos are also likely to appear in Google search results.
Make use of Local Search Results – Although earlier mentioned that Local search is taking space away from traditional organic search rankings, this is still a really valuable place for your business to show up. Google may have made it more difficult to reach your website from local search results. However it’s still a great way for potential customers to find your business. They may like the look of you and decide to make that crucial brand-specific google search, thereby getting them to your site, indirectly. Similarly, if you aren’t listing in local searches, then your competitors will be! You don’t want them to get those crucial customers that you’re missing out on.
There are a number of methods to increase your likelihood of appearing in local results. A well optimised Google my Business listing is really important- ensure all the business details are correct and up-to-date. Add your best company photos, and encourage your customers to give you a 5-star review. Adding your business to other local directories, ensuring the business name, address and phone number are consistent across all platforms, can improve local search visibility.
Providing Answers as Featured Snippets – As previously mentioned, a featured snippet may reduce the number of users who actually click through to your site. However, as Google does and will continually use featured Snippets, it’s definitely beneficial to target your web content such that it is more likely to appear in snippet results. Users do click through to your site and will appreciate seeing a clear answer to the query they searched for.
Schema.org markup is an HTML code. You can add this to your page such that search engines better understand the content. For example, you could mark up your webpage as a recipe, using schema, and Google may display your content in a featured snippet when searchers look for that particular recipe type.
This tool can be used to generate schema markup for a range of information types.
Other ways of keeping up in the SEO field
Google Ads – For some types of new search features, Ads listings still appear in the top positions. It’s particularly useful to use paid search advertising if you’re looking to compete in commercial spaces that Google now operates in, for example, flights and cinema listing searches.
Social Platforms – these are still very much an important traffic source. Here you can post high-quality content, linking to your websites to earn crucial traffic.
Amazon – An increasingly popular field of SEO is Amazon SEO. Around 44% of product searches now begin on Amazon. Amazon allows sellers to create product listings in a simple-to-use way. However, the search ranking algorithm is becoming increasingly complex. This means product listings can greatly benefit from optimisation techniques, just like we’ve been doing for search engines for years now!
SEO always has been and will continue to be a rapidly changing field. In order to compete in search rankings, it’s crucial to stay updated with the latest developments. Here at Mahon Digital, we ensure we keep up to date with all new developments across all Marketing channels.
Keep looking out for Mahon Digital blog articles. We’ll continue to provide interesting ideas, developments and our own opinions on the digital marketing world!
Get in touch with us today, and let us help your business stand out in the ever-developing digital world!