Archives February 2020

90.63% of Content Gets No Traffic From Google. And How to Be in the Other 9.37% [New Research for 2020]

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  • Referring domains 534

Data from Content Explorer tool.

It’s no secret that the web is growing by millions, if not billions of pages per day.

Our Content Explorer tool discovers 1.8 million new pages every 24 hours while being very picky about the pages that qualify for inclusion. The “main” Ahrefs web crawler crawls more than double that number of pages every minute!

But how much of this content gets organic traffic from Google?

In 2017, we kind of answered this question by studying around two million random newly-published pages. We found that only 5.7% of them ranked in Google’s top 10 search results for at least one search query within a year of being published.

In other words, a whopping 94.3% of pages out of roughly two million pages didn’t get even a single visitor from Google.

But two million pages is a rather insignificant sample size when you consider the depth and breadth of the entire web. So we decided to conduct another study.

We took the entire database from our Content Explorer tool (over one billion pages) and studied how many pages get traffic from organic search and why.

How many web pages get organic search traffic?

90.63% of all pages in our index get zero traffic from Google, and 5.29% of them get ten visits per month or less.

01 90 percent pages get no organic search traffic from google 1

01 90 percent pages get no organic search traffic from google 1

“90.63% of pages get zero traffic from Google.” — from @Ahrefs study of over 1 BILLION web pages.”

Click to tweet

Before we move on to discussing why the vast majority of pages never get any search traffic from Google (and how to avoid being one of them), it’s important to address two main discrepancies with the studied data:

  1. A billion pages may seem like a huge number, but it’s not the most accurate representation of the entire web. Content Explorer only indexes pages that meet our criteria for inclusion, which ensures that we only add “good” ones (while the internet is bloated with utterly “bad” pages). Even compared to the size of Site Explorer’s index—297 billion pages—our sample size for this study is quite small and somewhat biased towards the “quality side of the web.”
  2. Our search traffic numbers are estimates. We estimate search traffic based on our database of ~494 million keywords in Site Explorer. And even though it’s arguably the largest database of its kind, it clearly doesn’t represent all possible search queries that people put into Google (where billions of searches happen every day). So there’s an excellent chance that a lot of pages are getting search traffic from some super long-tail search queries that are not popular enough to make it into our database.

That said, these two “inaccuracies” don’t change much in the grand scheme of things—the vast majority of published pages never rank in Google and never get any search traffic. That’s why so many businesses are desperate to improve their SEO.

But why is this, and how can you be a part of the minority that gets organic search traffic from Google?

Well, there are hundreds of SEO issues that may prevent your pages from ranking well in Google. But if we focus on the most common scenarios only, there’s only four of them.

Reason 1: The page doesn’t have any backlinks

I hate to rehearse the same mantra found in almost every other SEO article, but there’s really no way around it:

Backlinks do help you rank higher in Google!

And they are one of Google’s “top 3 ranking factors.”

So why don’t we slice our studied pages by the number of unique websites (referring domains) that are linking to each page?

02 66 percent of pages have zero referring domains 1

02 66 percent of pages have zero referring domains 1

It looks like 66.31% of pages don’t have even a single backlink, and 26.29% have links from three websites or less.

“66.31% of pages don’t have even a single backlink — from @Ahrefs study of over 1 BILLION web pages.”

Click to tweet

Did you notice the trend already?

Most pages get no search traffic, and most pages have no backlinks.

But are these the same pages?

Let’s look at the trend between these pages’ monthly organic search traffic and their backlinks from unique websites (referring domains):

03 referring domains vs search traffic 1

03 referring domains vs search traffic 1

The correlation is clear: the more backlinks a page has, the more organic traffic it gets from Google.

We see a similar correlation between referring domains and keyword rankings:

04 referring domains vs keyword rankings 1

04 referring domains vs keyword rankings 1

Now, it’s important to note that correlation does not imply causation and that none of these graphs provide direct evidence that backlinks help you rank in Google. However, most SEO professionals will tell you that it’s almost impossible to rank on the first page without backlinks—an observation that aligns with the data above.

So if you want to rank in Google and get search traffic, you’ll need to build high-quality backlinks to your page. If you’re unsure how to do that, start with these articles on our blog:

Further reading

But, here’s a question: is it possible to get organic traffic without links?

Let’s look at the data:

06 number of pages with no rds 1

06 number of pages with no rds 1

Just over four million pages get some organic search traffic while having no backlinks. That might sound like a lot, but it’s roughly 5% of our sample, meaning that only one in every ~20 pages without backlinks has traffic…

… and the majority of these get 300 organic visits or less each month.

But what happens if we exclude pages on websites with high Domain Ratings?

In short, the numbers become even more pessimistic. Just over 1.4 million pages get organic traffic, which is less than 4% of our sample. And only around 320,000 get more than 300 monthly organic visits, which is around 0.1% of our sample.

05 pages with organic traffic and zero backlinks dr60 1

05 pages with organic traffic and zero backlinks dr60 1

This suggests that pages without backlinks on high-authority sites are slightly more likely to get organic traffic than those on low authority sites.

This is probably because they use internal links to pass PageRank to new pages.

Here are two more reasons why this might be the case:

  1. They block our crawler. Most shady SEOs block SEO tools like Ahrefs from seeing their backlinks. This is usually to stop competitors from seeing (and possibly reporting) their PBNs.
  2. They target low competition topics. Queries with low search volumes tend to be uncompetitive, so it takes fewer backlinks to rank.

If the possibility of getting search traffic without the need to build backlinks excites you, I suggest learning more about the concept of Keyword Difficulty and how to find keywords/topics with decent search traffic potential and low competition.

And if you want to see the pages that get traffic despite having no backlinks—perhaps for inspiration—go to Content Explorer, run an empty search, then filter for pages with traffic and no backlinks:

1.content explorer 1

1.content explorer 1

Here’s just one example of a page without backlinks that consistently gets thousands of monthly organic visits:

2 page with traffic 2 1

2 page with traffic 2 1

Reason 2: The topic of the page has no long-term traffic potential

Some pages have tons of backlinks, but they still get zero traffic from Google.

How do I know? I filtered for all pages in the Content Explorer database that get no traffic from organic search and divided them into four buckets based on the number of linking domains to each page.

07 pages with 10referring domains and no search traffic 1

07 pages with 10referring domains and no search traffic 1


As you can see, almost 70k pages have backlinks from over 200 referring domains, yet don’t get any search traffic whatsoever.

By reviewing these (and many other) pages manually, I noticed two general trends that explain why such pages get no traffic despite having so many backlinks:

  1. They went overboard with “shady link building” and got penalized by Google;
  2. They aren’t targeting a topic that people are searching for in Google.

I don’t want to expand on point one, since I’m hoping readers of the Ahrefs Blog are not practicing “shady link building” and, therefore, will never experience this issue.

As for #2, well, this one is pretty self-explanatory really:

If nobody is searching for whatever you talk about on your page, you won’t get any search traffic.

Take a look at the metrics for one of our blog posts, for example:

3 ahrefs post metrics 1

3 ahrefs post metrics 1

337 backlinks from 132 websites—yet no organic traffic.

This happens because the page is about “organic traffic research,” which virtually nobody is searching for:

4 keyword difficulty 2

4 keyword difficulty 2

You see this a lot with news articles. They easily obtain a lot of links from around the web, yet rarely get any long-term traffic from Google.

This is because people can’t search for things they’re unaware of, and most people don’t care about things that happened long ago and thus never search for them.

Editor’s Note

You may have noticed that some news articles get a lot of organic search traffic in the short-term by ranking in the “Top stories” block for relevant, high-volume search queries.

Here’s an article from The Guardian ranking in the “Top stories” block for “Donald Trump”:

5 donald trump 1

Ahrefs picked this up almost immediately:

6 site explorer guardian 2 1

6 site explorer guardian 2 1

Because “Donald Trump” gets 5.6M searches per month, this page received a lot of traffic from the “Top stories” block.

However, if you check the traffic now, I’ll bet that traffic has already dropped.

Joshua Hardwick

So one of the quickest and most effective SEO wins ever is this:

  1. Find the pages on your website with the most referring domains;
  2. Do keyword research to see if you can re-optimize them for relevant topics with decent search traffic potential.

I have to give credit to Bryan Harris for sharing this “quick SEO win” during an interview for our “Blogging for business” course:

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-JNfOlCK-TU&feature=emb_title

He suggested using the “Best by links” report in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer to find the pages on your site with the most links, then analyze their search traffic. By doing this, you can find pages with tons of links but very little organic search traffic.

7 bbl videofruit 1

Here’s one that pops up for us:

8 serp features 1

8 serp features 1

It’s a guide to SERP features, and it has backlinks from 67 websites but no organic traffic.

We could fix this by re-optimizing the page for a keyword with more traffic potential like “SERP.”

Given that a similar guide with backlinks from just 26 websites gets an estimated 3,400 monthly organic visits, we should be able to increase our traffic quite easily.

9 competitor serp features 1

9 competitor serp features 1

Just remember that it doesn’t make sense to do this with all low traffic pages with backlinks. The purpose of some pages isn’t to rank, so choose your battles wisely.

Reason 3. The page doesn’t match search intent

Google aims to return the most relevant results for a query.

That’s why the top organic results for “best yoga mat” are blog posts with recommendations, not product pages.

Screenshot 2020 01 23 at 16.06.55 1

Screenshot 2020 01 23 at 16.06.55 1

Basically, Google knows that searchers are in research mode, not buying mode.

It’s also why this page selling yoga mats doesn’t show up, despite it having backlinks from over seven times more websites than the pages that rank in the top 10:

11 se manduka 1
12 serp overview best yoga mat 1

Luckily, the page ranks for thousands of other more relevant keywords and gets tens of thousands of monthly organic visits. So it’s not such a big deal that it doesn’t rank for “best yoga mat.”

13 manduka keywords 1

However, if you have pages with lots of backlinks but no organic traffic—and they already target a keyword with traffic potential—another quick SEO win is to re-optimize them for search intent.

We did this in 2018 with our free backlink checker.

It was originally nothing but a boring landing page explaining the benefits of our product and offering a 7‑day trial:

ahrefs free backlink checker old 1

ahrefs free backlink checker old 1

After analyzing search intent, we soon realized the issue:

People weren’t looking for a landing page, but rather a free tool they could use right away.

So, in September 2018, we created a free tool and published it under the same URL. Rankings went through the roof, and so did organic traffic.

Screenshot 2020 01 29 at 03.03.52 1

Screenshot 2020 01 29 at 03.03.52 1

Screenshot 2020 01 29 at 03.02.59 1

Screenshot 2020 01 29 at 03.02.59 1

Reason 4. The page isn’t indexed

Google can’t rank pages that aren’t indexed.

If you suspect this might be why your page gets no organic traffic, search Google for site:[url]. You should see at least one result; otherwise, it’s not indexed.

Screenshot 2020 01 23 at 16.28.53 1

Screenshot 2020 01 23 at 16.28.53 1

There are a few reasons why this can happen, but the most common is a rogue noindex meta tag. This is a small piece of code that tells search engines not to index a URL.

Rogue canonicals, redirects, and robots.txt blocks can also prevent indexing.

To see pages excluded due to these issues (and others), check the “Excluded” tab in the “Coverage” report in Google Search Console.

18 search console coverage 1

18 search console coverage 1

Google also doesn’t usually index broken pages—even if they have backlinks.

Believe it or not, these are surprisingly common.

For example, if we check the Best by Links report in Ahrefs’ Site Explorer for a popular content marketing blog and filter for broken pages, we see tons of examples.

19 bbl 1

19 bbl 1

One page has backlinks from 131 websites, but it’s no longer live or indexed:

Screenshot 2020 01 23 at 17.04.29 1

Screenshot 2020 01 23 at 17.04.29 1

Judging by the URL, the page used to answer the question, “what is content marketing?”—a keyword with a monthly search volume of 5,900 in the US.

21 what is content marketing 1

21 what is content marketing 1

Luckily, a different page on the site already ranks for this keyword. So, in this case, it’s not a huge loss.

22 serp what is content marketing 1

22 serp what is content marketing 1

However, at the very least, it would make sense to redirect the dead page with backlinks to a working page on the same topic. This may help them get more organic traffic from long-tail keywords.

TLDR

90.63% of pages get no organic traffic.

Keep your pages in the other 9.36% by building backlinks, choosing topics with organic traffic potential, matching search intent, and making sure they’re indexed.

Ping on me on Twitter if you have any questions. 🙂


Four common Google Analytics myths busted

Google Analytics is a powerful tool that’s unprecedented in its ability to measure your website’s performance. The data it gathers is invaluable to you as a marketer. They can give you a clear view of what decisions you need to make to benefit your brand. Data, however, are just numbers and graphs. On their own, they cannot tell a story. It’s your job as a marketer to deduce that story through sound and unbiased analysis and not fall for Google Analytics myths.

If Google Analytics terms and data confuse you more than they enlighten you, this article will help you understand four Google Analytics and SEO-related myths you need to avoid.

How do I use Google Analytics?

Business owners use Google Analytics (GA) to see what they’re doing right, in terms of getting quality traffic to their sites. If you’re a business owner hoping to expand your presence in online spheres, you’ll need analytics to measure your success.

With the use of metrics, Google Analytics tracks who visits your site, how long they stay, what device they’re using, and what link brought them there. With these data, you can discover how to improve your online marketing and SEO strategies.

Google Analytics basics

At first, it may seem like Google Analytics is serving you raw data that are too complicated to digest. Learning to speak the analytics language, though, it is easier than you think. Below are some basic terms to help you better understand the data reported by Google Analytics:

Pageviews

Pageviews are the total number of times a page on your site that users have viewed. This includes instances in which users refresh the page or when they jump to another page and promptly go back to the page they had just left. This underlines what pages are most popular.

Visits/Sessions

Sessions are measured by how much time users spend on your website, regardless if they spend it navigating only one or multiple pages. Sessions are limited to a 30-minute window. This means that if users stay on the site for 30 minutes but remain inactive and non-interactive with the page throughout, the session ends. If they leave the site and go back within 30 minutes, though, it gets counted as a session.

Average session duration refers to the average time users spent on your site. Pages per session, on the other hand, is the average number of pages that users view on your site within a single session.

Time on Page

This refers to the average time users spend on a page on your site. This can help you determine which pages users typically check out longer. This starts the second a pageview is counted until the subsequent pageview ends it.

Traffic

Traffic refers to the number of people accessing your website. This comes from a traffic source or any place where users come from before they are led to your pages.

Traffic is classified into direct and referral. Direct traffic comes from pageviews triggered by specifically typing the whole URL or when a user is given a URL directly without searching for it. Referral traffic is directed from links on other sites, like search results or social media.

Unique Pageviews

Unique pageviews are reported when your page is viewed once by users in a single session. These don’t count the times users navigated back to that page in the same session. For example, a user navigates the whole site in one session and navigates back to the original page three times; the Unique Pageview count is still at one, and not three.

Unique Visitors

When a user visits your site for the first time, a unique visitor and a new visit for the website is counted. Google Analytics uses cookies to determine this. If the same user comes back to the site on the same browser and device, it’s only counted as a new visit. But if that user deletes their cookies or accesses the site through a different browser or device, they may be falsely added as a unique visitor.

Hits

Hits are interactions or requests made to a site. This includes page views, events, and transactions. A group of hits is measured as a session, used to determine a user’s engagement with the website.

Clicks

Clicks are measured by the number of clicks you get from search engine results. Click-through rate (CTR) is the total amount of clicks divided by impressions or times you are part of the user’s search results. If CTR is dropping, consider writing titles and meta descriptions that capture your users’ attention better.

Events

Events are actions users take on a particular site. This includes clicking buttons to see other pages or download files. You are looking at what kind of content encourages users to interact with the page, thereby triggering an event.

Bounce rate

Bounce rate refers to users’ single-page sessions wherein they click on a page and exits quickly without interacting with a single element on the page. A high bounce rate can mean either that a user has swiftly found what they were looking for or that they did not think the content on the page was interesting enough to stay longer and engage.

Goals

You can input goals in your Google Analytics account to track user interactions on your site. These interactions include submitting a report, subscribing to your newsletter, or downloading files. If the user performs an event that you’ve identified as a goal, Analytics counts this as a conversion.

Four common Google Analytics myths debunked

Now that you have an overview of Google Analytics terms, below are five common misconceptions surrounding those terms and how to avoid these as a marketer.

1. The more traffic that goes to your site, the better

The myth

Generally, you’d want more people to visit your site. These huge amounts of visits, though, won’t matter if they don’t turn into conversions. Even if thousands of people flock to your webpages each day, if they don’t take the desired actions your SEO campaign is aiming for, these visits won’t provide any benefit for your site.

The truth

A good SEO strategy is built upon making sure that once you’ve garnered a pageview, the quality of your content drives the user to the desired action such as subscribing to a newsletter, for example.

Keyword research can help make sure that you use the right terms to get you a higher ranking on SERPs. The material on your site, however, is also crucial in satisfying your users’ queries, enough to get a conversion.

2. Users need to spend more time on webpages

The myth

Users spending a few quick seconds on your page is not entirely bad. This may mean that these users are looking for quick, precise answers. Quality SEO delivers this to them through well-placed keywords and concise content. Hence, if they quickly get the answers they need, they tend to leave the site immediately.

The truth

Quality SEO content ensures that your material is written in such a way that it invites users to learn more about the subject, which can be seen when they are led to another page on your site. This leads them one step closer to taking the desired action on your site.

3. The amount of unique visitors is an accurate metric to measure audience traffic

The myth

The upsurge of unique visitors on your page doesn’t necessarily mean that the amount of your audience is blowing up. Unique visitors are measured by cookies used by Google to determine if it’s a user’s first time on a site. The same user accessing the same page through a different browser or a browser whose cookies have been cleared is counted as a unique visitor too.

The truth

If you’re looking to study your audience, it’s not enough to look at how many of them go to your page. You can refer to the Audience > Demographics tab and see who are navigating your site and from what marketing links they were directed from. With this information, you can determine what types of content gather the most traffic and from what avenues this traffic comes from such as SERPs or social media posts, for example.

4. Traffic reports are enough to tell if your campaign is successful

The myth

Looking at traffic reports alone is not enough to determine whether your SEO campaign is successful, or that your keyword research paid off. Although at first, it seems as though heavy traffic signals an effective online marketing strategy, it only counts the quantitative aspect of your campaign and dismisses the qualitative side.

The truth

Maximize all the reports on GA. All these are correlated with how your campaign is going. Reports are valuable in comprehensively addressing issues instead of nitpicking on a single aspect of a campaign because, for instance, a report suggests it’s not doing its job.

These points will help you clear the air when it comes to Google Analytics and help you correctly derive insights.

The post Four common Google Analytics myths busted appeared first on Search Engine Watch.


2020 Prediction Month: Why Visual Search Will Surpass Voice Search in 2020 – Eric Enge // Perficient Digital

Episode Overview: Voice search is an intriguing, exciting component of the total search experience, but little data has been collected on its efficacy to accurately solve user search queries. As developers and search giants like Google continue to iterate and improve the voice search experience, visual search remains strong and continues to grow in popularity among users. Join host Ben as he concludes 2020 Predictions Month with Perficient Digital’s Eric Enge reviewing why image search is so appealing to users and discuss the various obstacles preventing progress with voice search.

Summary

  • Google image search remains one the most popular type of search query on Google, encompassing 20% of all user search queries according to data from Ira Fishkin.
  • A utility problem with voice search is users can ask questions, but don’t get call responses. It’s missing a natural conversation component that allows users to narrow down results using successive followup questions.
  • When optimizing for featured snippets, 98% of the benefit is attributed to showing up in web search results, whereas there’s only a 2% benefit to showing up in voice results.

GUESTS & RESOURCES

Ben:                 Welcome back to 2020 Predictions Month on the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host, Benjamin Shapiro, and this month we’re looking into the crystal ball to tell you SEO and content marketers what you can expect in 2020. Joining us again for SEO Predictions Month is Eric Enge, who is the principal for digital marketing at Perficient Digital, which is a leading digital transformation consulting firm serving enterprise customers with unparalleled information technology, management consulting and creative capabilities.

Ben:                 Yesterday, Eric and I talked about why Google will be integrating more features into its UI. Today, his prediction is discussing why visual search is going to be more important than voice search in 2020. Okay, here’s the rest of my interview with Eric Enge, principal of digital marketing at Perficient Digital. Eric, welcome back to the Voices of Search podcast.

Eric:                 Well, great to be back, Benjamin. Thanks for having me again.

Ben:                 Always a pleasure. Great to have you as a friend of the pod. Yesterday, we talked about your prediction about how Google is going to be integrating more features into its UI, about how you should take advantage of featured snippets and image search, and YouTube. There are all sorts of ways other than just static blog posts and web pages that are going to help you get more visibility with Google.

Ben:                 Today, we’re going to talk a little bit about two of those that are kind of contrasting. For years now, we’ve been hearing how voice search is coming, voice is coming, is voice search coming. Voice search isn’t coming so quickly. Talk to me about how image search is actually more important to SEOs than voice search this year.

Eric:                 Sure, I’m happy to do that. I think the real core to this story is that even basic research will show that over 20% of all search, this is leveraging data that Ira Fishkin published by a jump shot, over 20% of all search, not just all Google search, is Google image search. That’s a big hunking number by itself. In contrast, the available data around voice search is quite a bit smaller. There’s some conflicting information, and I think if I can I’d like to deal with a couple of the most commonly cited stats and help people understand what they actually said, and then we can get back to visual search a little bit more after that.

Eric:                 First of all, there’s the oft-cited boat which is often attributed to Comscore, that 50% of all search would be voice, actually even a misstatement by itself, by 2020 the actual original quote was going to be 50% of all search would be voice and visual collectively by 2020, and it by Andrew Ing, not by Comscore. But it doesn’t matter. That didn’t happen. It’s not at 50%, I can assure you.

Ben:                 It’s not even 15.

Eric:                 That’s correct. Then there’s a statement that was made by an executive at Google, whose name is escaping me at the moment … It’s actually Sundar Pichai, so that’s an executive all right.

Ben:                 I’ve heard of him.

Eric:                 He said that in the U.S., on our mobile app and Android, one in five queries, 20% of our queries are voice queries, and their share is growing. So, that statement which was made a couple of years ago sounds like a big number too, but here, you have to break that down a little bit more.

Ben:                 That’s 20% is voice search, or it’s image search?

Eric:                 It’s voice search. This is what he said. This is the other really commonly cited stat. The problem is, first of all this did not include desktop queries, where the voice search queries share is probably close to zero. It also did not include queries via browser on Android devices. It may be that, and I suspect, that far more of the actual querying activity on mobile devices, on Android, probably happens in Chrome and regular browsers rather than the Google Assistant.

Eric:                 By the time you get done with those two data points, I think you see that voice search is probably a lot smaller than the way people are reading it.

Ben:                 If you strip out 80% of people’s activity on their mobile phones and desktops, then 20% of the activity happens on voice search. Right? It doesn’t paint the whole picture is what you’re saying.

Eric:                 It is what I’m saying.

Ben:                 Right, and on the contrast, image search, something we don’t talk very much about, is incredibly important. Talk to me about what you’ve seen in image search, and why you think that that’s not only more important now, but going to be more important in 2020.

Eric:                 There are a couple of reasons. To be fair about it, we don’t have hard data beyond the one statistic I already quoted from jump shot, by Ira Fishkin. Over 20% of queries are image search already. That’s a real 20%. It’s measured across … Well, the jump shot data is PC and Android devices. This is broad, unfiltered, unconstrained data. So that’s a hard number, and that effectively is the start of a visual search experience. Google has announced some major initiatives in this area.

Eric:                 Google Lens, which can increase the number of people using Google Collections, Google Discover. We’re pushing it in several areas. I think those will progress unevenly. They also have 3D images and high resolution images they’re now trying to make available to people through search experiences. Also, from the conversations I have with people at Google, they also believe that visual search is going to come along much more quickly than voice search.

Eric:                 So, I would try to step back and think about well, why from a human perspective would this be true? There’s a couple of things there. One is that 30% of the neurons in the human brain are associated with processing vision, and visual understanding. We are closer to taking advantage of that in the world of search than we are of voice.

Ben:                 Tell me, what are the shortcomings to voice search that are stopping it from gaining wider adoption.

Eric:                 Another often quoted, but misunderstood stat, is that evidently speech recognition today does a better job of understanding voice than humans do.

Ben:                 I don’t believe that for a second.

Eric:                 But let’s understand what we mean by speech recognition. What we mean is understanding that I just said the word “the” and then the word “dog” and then the word “ran”. It’s literally understanding each individual word, which is not the same as natural language processing and understanding the sentence. That’s where we have a gap that’s still very significant.

Ben:                 Yeah, I think that voice search can hear what you’re saying more accurately. It’s different than interpreting and understanding the intent.

Eric:                 That’s exactly the gap that we’re at. Not only that, in the voice search world, which by the way “voice search” is even the wrong name for it, but in this world, great, you understood this one sentence and what it meant. Then I give you the answer and in the answer is another question, “Can you maintain a conversation?” And we’re not even close.

Ben:                 Yeah, I think at the end of the day when I think about voice search, we’ve been hearing voice search is coming, I mentioned, ad nauseam for a few years. It seems like Google is putting the pieces together in terms of understanding what is the most relevant short form pieces of content to be able to give answers to consumers when they ask questions. We’re seeing this with our featured snippets, Google being able to keep more content on their page. They’re putting the building blocks together to be able to give you the information quickly and efficiently in their non-voice search, in desktop search.

Ben:                 On the flip side, there’s also a utility problem in voice search in the sense of I can ask a question, but there is no call response, call response, call response. It’s hard to continue a conversation and then filter down where if I’m looking for an ecommerce experience, I want to buy shoes, Google can’t necessarily interpret okay I want to buy shoes. It’s not going to send you shoes. It needs to ask what color, what style, what brand, what size, a whole bunch of follow up questions, what address, what payment form. All of those experiences haven’t been built out yet.

Ben:                 Right now, what people are doing on voice search is they’re asking to play music, they’re asking what the weather is, and to set a reminder. The feature set is relatively limited, and to me that’s the hindrance for voice search. There’s actually development in the, I want to call it UI, or maybe it’s the UX because there is no interface. It’s interface-less. But, the feature set is limited in voice search, and that’s really where I see the development is, and that’s why the consumers won’t adopt yet until that development continues.

Eric:                 Right, so there’s two things there. One is, a lot of what’s called voice search is really people giving commands to their device – set a timer, play a song, turn on the lights, turn off the lights, stuff like that. That’s not really search in the conventional sense. But what we’ve kind of worked together through here in talking about this, is voice working the way people would like it to work ideally, has a long way to go whereas visual search-

Ben:                 Pretty damn good.

Eric:                 Has not nearly that far to go to give the user what they’re looking for. That’s the reason why the visual side of things is going to go much faster.

Ben:                 From a practical application where SEOs should prioritize those visual, not necessarily voice search, on the flip side you’re going to get more bang for your buck when you’re getting into a featured snippet than by spending all of your time trying to optimize your images. So, where does the rubber meet the road here? The practical application of optimizing for voice search is featured snippets and all of the sort of features that Google is building, quick answers, as opposed to image search is a different strategy. How do SEOs take the information that image search is really going to be more important and impactful than voice search, but featured snippets are going to be really important as well?

Eric:                 Yeah, no it’s a great question. When we talk about optimizing for featured snippets, as you just suggested, you need to remember that the benefits of doing that are probably 98% associated with showing up in web search results, and 2% in voice search results. So, featured snippets optimization is not a one-to-one with voice search optimization. It’s only 2% of the benefit that you get from the featured snippet accrues to voice search. Whereas, anything that I do in image optimization speaks directly to that entire 21% or so of all search, which happens in Google image search today.

Eric:                 Then as I play in Google’s new features there, I would project that those would probably grow more quickly than voice search.

Ben:                 At the end of the day, I think this is a business decision where you focus on featured snippets. Obviously, that is going to have an impact on how you show up in voice search, but really you should be doing this because you want to be in position zero and have Google showing your content at the top of the page.

Eric:                 Right.

Ben:                 It is not specifically a voice optimization tactic. Depending on what your business is, you can decide to focus on that, or image search. In reality, when you’re directly comparing voice search to image search, image search is going to be dramatically more impactful this year than voice search would be alone.

Eric:                 Correct.

Ben:                 Okay, Eric any last words before we let you go? Any other predictions related to voice search and image search for 2020?

Eric:                 Having prioritized the image and visual search over voice search, the reality is that both will grow, and for each business it’s always important for you to consider what might be the best platform for you. If you have a business where it’s natural for a person sitting on their couch to want to bark out something to their Google Assistant or Amazon Echo device, then maybe a voice search strategy does make sense for you now. I’m just saying to be more business where the visual side plays more importantly than the voice.

Ben:                 Okay, and that wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Eric Enge, principal of digital marketing at Perficient Digital. If you’d like to get in touch with Eric, you can find the link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact him on Twitter, where his handle is @stonetemple, or you could visit his company’s website, which is perficientdigital.com

Ben:                 Just one link in our show notes that I’d like to tell you about, if you didn’t have a chance to take notes while you were listening to this podcast, head over to voicesofsearch.com where we have summaries of all our episodes, contact information for our guests, you can send us your topic suggestions, your SEO questions, or you can apply to be a speaker on the Voices of Search podcast. Of course, you can always reach out on social media. Our handle is @voicesofsearch on Twitter, or you can reach out to me directly. My hand is @benjshap.

Ben:                 If you haven’t subscribed yet, and you want a regular stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, we’re going to publish multiple episodes a week. So, hit the subscribe button in your podcast app, and we’ll be back in your feed soon. Okay, that’s it for today, but until next time, remember the answers are always in the data.


The Benefits of an Internship After Graduation

Starting Your New Career

You aced that last exam, waltzed across the stage in your cap and gown, and you’re eager to start your career. The only problem: you’re about to dive into the uncertain abyss that is post-grad life and the only certainty, is that your diploma will arrive in 6-8 weeks.

There are few crossroads in life more daunting than the transition period from college to career. Especially when you’ve been aggressively applying to jobs but haven’t landed a full-time gig yet. As the days pass by, you begin to consider alternative options.

  • Head back to school for a graduate degree
  • Explore yourself and the world with a gap year
  • Settle for a position outside your field

All those options present a compelling list of pros and cons. A few more years in the classroom could provide the knowledge and skills necessary to stand out. Experiencing different cultures through travel might help you discover your true purpose. At worst, a job outside your field of study will pay the bills.

What if you could bolster your knowledge and skill-set without tacking on additional student debt? What if you could accomplish this by contributing to an actual organization in the field?

Not included on that list, and often overlooked, are post-grad internships. While it may feel like a setback or stalled progress, an internship after graduation allows you to:

  • Build your skillset and resume by gaining experience in the field
  • Get a glimpse of a day-in the life with a prospective employer and pick the brains of successful industry experts
  • Change to a career path you’re passionate about

So, erase the negative stigma associated with the label ‘intern’ and read on to learn why I left a full-time gig for an internship at Seer!

My flight path to a Seer internship

I was in this nerve-wracking position not long ago, where I felt the burden of landing a job after college bear down on my shoulders daily. Upon receiving my first job offer (several months after graduation), I packed my bags and relocated eight hours south, in the hopes of putting my media production degree to the test.

Removed from Philadelphia, my nest for 22 years, I came to the swift realization that I wasn’t fulfilled. I thought all the concerns would dissipate with my career on track. Instead, I faced the burning desire to fly back to Philly and shift my career path to digital marketing.

Aware that my resume lacked any substantial digital marketing experience, I set out to get hands-on exposure. I took the one aspect of my job that I loved – writing – and freelanced my way into a respectable portfolio (or so I thought).

Applying for entry-level content writing jobs, I was often met with the dreaded 3-5 years experience requirement. Less than one year out of school, how could I already be expected to have extensive experience in the field?

Rejection after rejection, I prowled the internet for plausible options. I found myself contemplating the aforementioned list. Grad school, random job to pay the bills, freelance until I figure it out. That is, until I stumbled upon Seer Interactive while searching for the top agencies in Philadelphia.

The only term I was familiar with at Seer was SEO -which, at the time, was a vast and complex concept that I hadn’t fully grasped yet. I was aware of SEO from my freelance writing, so I decided to do a deep-dive into Seer’s job opportunities. That’s where I first discovered the Seer Digital Marketing Internship program.

 

Everything about the posting intrigued me and, most importantly, it was open to non-students. Without hesitation, I applied. Two video interviews later and I received an offer.

Ready to channel my inner Robert De Niro as a late-in-life intern in ‘The Intern’, I officially joined the Seer team. My internship came to an end and I’m happy to say that the Seer intern program paved my path for a career in digital marketing.

What Are the Advantages of a Post-Grad Internship?

If you’re sitting at home wondering how to gain work experience after graduation, listen up. There are countless reasons to consider internships as an alternative to graduate school or ditching your passion in order to pay the bills.

Build Your Skillset & Resume through On-The-Job Experience

The sheer wealth of knowledge at your disposal through post-grad internships is invaluable. Training sessions and ‘real-world’ projects provide more useful information than any textbook.

Once you’re acclimated and dive into the work, your skillset grows exponentially. All the information from training clicks when you apply it to your work.  As your list of accomplishments grows, so does your confidence. You become willing to own tasks start to finish, preparing yourself for full-time life.

Not only do you solidify the hard skills required to score an interview, but you also build soft skills and a tangible portfolio. Together, they build an ironclad resume and a compelling case for the company to hire you full-time, upon the completion of your internship.

pasted image 0 90Tip: Most internships are part-time and you can use this to your advantage. When you’re in the office, you get to work hands-on with your team and mentors.

  • In your free time, read and study up on industry-relevant information. You maximize your time and the extra effort pays off when you’re back with the team.

Pick the Brain of Successful Industry Professionals

What if you were applying for a job at a company and they offered you the chance to work alongside your prospective team for a few months, prior to accepting the role? Well, that’s exactly how you should view an internship after college – an opportunity to work side-by-side with experienced industry professionals and potential colleagues.

There’s no better way to grow than to learn from the best. Make sure you come prepared with quality questions and meet them half-way. Don’t put the burden of getting you trained up entirely on your employer. Leverage your co-workers strategically to maximize the ROI for the internship.  Shadow them on projects and pay attention to their strategic methods. Take their years of experience and use that as the foundation for you to build off of.

Along with gaining their professional insight, you can take some of the workload off their plate. Your initiative will stand out and they will appreciate your contribution to the company.

At the end of the day, whether you remain with the company or not, you’ll build meaningful relationships. These can help with continued progress if you go full-time. You never know what the future holds either — even if you don’t want to continue into a full-time role with your current employer, the digital community is close-knit and one of your co-workers could take a job at your ‘dream-company’ someday. That’s why it’s crucial for you to capitalize on this unique opportunity and establish strong working relationships that you can call upon in the future.

Change Your Career Path Without Breaking the Bank

There are few realizations more disheartening than determining that you aren’t in the right line of work. Whether you spent four years studying and lost interest, or ten years working and want a change, that jump can be daunting.

There are plenty of options out there, from grad school to online courses, few of which come free of charge. While it’s always smart to research your options, it’s senseless to invest thousands of dollars in going back to school if you aren’t 100% certain where your heart lies.

An internship after college allows you to break into a new industry — without breaking the bank. You don’t have to be a subject expert as an intern and your employer understands that you’re still very much in the learning phase.  Tons of companies offer paid internships to recent grads specifically because they’ll be eligible to start full-time employment immediately following the internship if everything works out. What’s better than getting paid to learn?

The part-time hours of an internship provide the freedom to explore other pathways while still paying the bills. Outside of your internship hours, you can work a part-time gig, freelance, or search for relevant learning opportunities within your field.

Even if you’re juggling bartending (or freelance video gigs like I did) on the weekends with an internship during the week, it should be worth the temporary schedule insanity in order to gain meaningful hands-on experiences with a prospective employer.

pasted image 0 90Tip: Don’t forget to showcase all the amazing work you’ve been doing during your downtime outside the internship — that speaks volumes in an interview.

Find the Right Internship Program

Not all internships are created equal. If you’re doing an internship after college, you need to identify the best option for long-term success. While most will be beneficial, you don’t want to waste time in the wrong fit.

What should you look for in a post-grad internship?

  • A company that prepares interns for a transition to full-time
  • Somewhere that exposes you to similar challenges you’ll encounter on the job and mimics a-day-in-the-life in the industry
  • An environment where current employees are open and excited to help you grow

A Storybook Ending

After 12 weeks of listening, learning, and actively contributing, I landed a full-time position as an SEO associate at Seer! Seer’s Internship Program was a comprehensive crash-course in Digital Marketing and I’m still astounded by how much ‘real-world’ SEO and PPC experience I gained in a matter of 12 short weeks.

If you’re lost and looking for a way to gain work experience after graduation, consider an internship. If you’re looking to break into digital marketing, take a look at the Seer Interactive Internship program!


DTC, SEO & Sexy Content ROI

This Smells Like My Vagina Candle

We had a bad client call last week.

The client is a sexy DTC start-up. They had asked us to put together an editorial strategy to improve their ability to target potential customers via SEO, but when we presented our recommendations which were primarily focused on high-intent-to-purchase queries, the CEO’s first question was “Why can’t we make sexy content like Goop, Away Travel, Food52 and Casper?”

Instead of targeting things you would ask before you bought the product, he wanted more “interesting” content that people would bond with. For example, if we were targeting people in the market for laptops, we wanted to target “what is a good laptop for everyday use?” and he wanted to target “best coffee shops in West Hollywood to work from,” with the idea that the person doing that search is their target customer and they would appreciate the brand’s POV on where they should hang out.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with his approach. It’s just a much longer, indirect play that targets a broad audience, most of which will likely not be in the market for his product any time soon. This is the kind of strategy Mercedes employs when it starts marketing to children so that when they grow up and have cash, they’ll subconsciously desire their cars. But it definitely helps to be Mercedes. And it definitely helps that Mercedes has money to burn.

But IMO this is not a great SEO strategy to get results in the near term.

There are plenty of good non-SEO reasons to invest in content, but if you are looking to rank well in Google for intent-to-buy queries, you’ll want to consider how well search intent aligns with your brand strategy. Looking at the DTC brands our client mentioned, you can see their content & SEO strategies are not all alike:

AwayTravel.com: Targeting The Top of The Funnel

According to SEMRush, AwayTravel.com gets almost no non-branded organic traffic. They do rank well for “carry on luggage,” but I believe that is mostly because one of their products is called “The Carry On Luggage.” They don’t appear to rank on page one of Google for any other significant non-brand queries and get barely any non-brand organic traffic:

AwayTravel.com Non-Brand Page One Keywords

It appears they put all of their “brand” content on https://www.heremagazine.com/ which according to SEMRush gets ~8K SEO visits/month from queries like “la to oregon road trip.” According to Ahrefs.com, they have done an aggressive backlinking program to this site over the past 6 months (4K+ links):

It looks like they have published north of 700 articles. Away branding on this site is almost invisible. I’d argue they get virtually no business directly from it. I am guessing the role of this site is to get email addresses so they can market the luggage to subscribers.

FOOD52.com & GOOP.com: When Brand Strategy Aligns With Search Intent

The folks at Food52 are either SEO geniuses or just lucky because they picked a niche where “brand” content – recipes, travel, home design, etc. – aligns perfectly with search queries like “matcha shortbread cookies” or “things to do in hudson, ny“:

Food52.com Non-Brand Page One Keywords

If you wanted to start a DTC business with an SEO strategy, you’d want to figure out a niche like Food52’s where the brand and the search intent are one and the same.

Goop.com
Goop is similar to Food52 in that it publishes a ton of content much of which is designed to lead you to a product, such as this post on why you’re not losing weight, which basically pitches their products as the cure. It also publishes City Guide content like https://goop.com/city-guide/the-mini-los-cabos-guide/ that ranks for “cabo itinerary,” which could hit travelers as they are planning a trip and might be in the mindset to buy a travel kit from them. Like with Food52, the travel part of this is not a bad SEO strategy if you are willing to invest in a ton of content plus promotion (aka links) and are looking to use this is as an awareness builder. Goop’s non-brand traffic looks pretty good:

Goop.com Non-Brand Page One Keywords

CASPER.com: The Opposite of Sexy


Casper feels almost 100% focused on “SEO” v “brand.” Most of their “brand” content lives on their blog, and much of the content appears to be focused on not-very-competitive keywords somewhat related to sleeping such as “what to do in the middle of the night,”  “plants in bedroom benefits,” etc. Most of these have low search volume, but you can see how someone might find Casper through these queries. This is not a bad strategy, but it’s not one we would choose as a primary SEO strategy, and I don’t think it’s Casper’s real SEO strategy.

Casper is prioritizing decidedly non-sexy “intent to buy” queries like “queen mattress size” and “how often should I replace my mattress.” According to the SEMRush data, https://casper.com/mattress-size-comparison-guide/ generates more than 50% of Casper’s non-brand traffic.

While Casper’s mattress size page looks about as sexy as Rudy Giuliani,

(sorry) it’s SEO performance looks super sexy to me:

Casper.com Non-Brand Page One Keywords

I would argue Casper may be over-reliant on a small number of URLs to do their SEO work. If that mattress-size page gets displaced in the SERPs, I wonder what that would do to their business.

So when you are thinking about investing in sexy content, before you pull the trigger, make sure you know exactly what you want that content to do for you. If it’s for social media, brand-building, etc., make it as sexy as you possibly can. But if it’s for SEO, make sure it’s at least targeting some sexy search queries.


Going international with SEO: How to make your WordPress site globally friendly

International expansion is an expected ambition for progressive websites. The online nature of this global reach means that the uncertainties, legal dangers, and cultural hazards are minimized. The world is at your fingertips, and the costs in reaching it successfully are minimal. The rationale for reaching out to a new audience, readership, viewership or listenership, maybe one of opportunity, exciting new prospects, high growth potential, or to escape a domestic audience that has become too saturated or competitive.

With only some limitations, the internet is a global phenomenon that effectively ties us all together with invisible strings. Send a Tweet from Prague and reply to it in Illinois. Publish an ebook in Seattle and share it with your friends in Beirut. There are practically no boundaries when it comes to sharing content online.

When it comes to your WordPress website, the one you’ve dedicated time, money and energy building, I expect that you will want it to possess the maximum global reach possible. This doesn’t just happen by chance and requires some key features within your site to make this happen. The following tips and suggested plugins should set you and your website on the path to international influence.

Four tips to help make your site globally friendly

1. Globalize your content

The foundation of an internationally appealing website is its content transcreation. This does not focus on the mere translation of words but ensures the recreation of meaning, intent, and context.

It is important to make sure that the meaning of the content does not change when translated into another language and does not convey your message wrongly. Cultural hazards are rife when it comes to the international expansion of any kind. To be accepted and welcomed in a different geographical area, you cannot afford to display misunderstood and potentially offensive content.

Unsurprisingly, over 73% of the global market prefers websites with content in their native language. If people cannot understand the content on your website, you cannot hope to keep their interest. In the same vein, inaccurate translations just won’t cut it. The best option is to find a content writer who can craft the copy in a specific language for better quality content.

2. Avoid rigid localized options

Some websites choose the default website domain and language based on dynamic Geolocation IP tracking. Others do not have rigid local settings and allow their websites to be accessed by users from anywhere. If you are hoping to reach as many readers as possible, this option is best. No matter the country from which your website is browsed, it can be accessed without limitations of location.

3. Avoid using text on images

Google cannot translate text on images. This is the same for logos, headings, and other information. This can be majorly off-putting for readers who do not understand some parts of your website. Further, no translator or software that runs on your multilingual site can translate graphical text. Therefore, avoid it altogether for the best results, or keep it to a minimum for a more international audience.

4. Localize checkout and shipping factors

Whether your WordPress site is an online store or sells software as a service that doesn’t require any shipping at all, your checkout process should be appropriately localized. Currency options are fundamental to users taking that final step to make the purchase. There are WordPress plugins available to allow for multiple currencies to be displayed and chosen from.

If you are giving the option of international shipping then inform the buyer beforehand whether or not the product is available for shipping to his local address. Make the option to convert the currency clear and choose a suitable API tool for currency conversions. In order to keep on track of abandoned cart figures, allow the user to view the delivery charges and taxes prior to checking out. Finally, remember that people from different locations are more comfortable with different payment methods- so ensure to provide multiple options.

Plugins to help make your site globally friendly

1. TranslatePress

This full-fledged WordPress multilingual plugin translates every aspect of your website. Its main feature is that it allows you to translate directly from the front-end. It allows you to easily switch languages during the translation- and the live preview is updated instantly. All translations of content, theme, plugins and even meta-data can be made without changing the interface.

It is ideal for manual translations. Do it yourself or assign a custom translator ‘user role’ to any user on your site. Users will then be able to translate as and when they want, without needing access to the admin area.

Lastly, the plugin creates SEO friendly URLs for all languages and boosts you up the local SEO results. Ranking well will make this extra effort to globalize your site worth all the while. Once you have established yourself as an authoritative and respectably ranking website abroad, you’re in and can continue the normal operation of your site.

2. Multi-currency for WooCommerce

As discussed, the need for multiple currencies on your international online store is unchallenged. This plugin allows users to easily switch to different currencies and make use of currency exchange rate converter with no limits. It can be used to accept only one currency or all currencies. Multi-currency for WooCommerce will enhance your site’s user experience and will do so for free. It’s a no brainer.

Implementing these can surely get you some good traction for your WordPress site on a global scale.

Feel free to share your thoughts and queries in the comments section.

The post Going international with SEO: How to make your WordPress site globally friendly appeared first on Search Engine Watch.


On-SERP SEO can help you battle zero-click results

On-SERP SEO is the process of fully optimizing the first page of a search engine to maximize the visibility of your brand. On-SERP SEO is a tool you can use to battle the increase of so-called zero-click searches. Find out all about on-SERP SEO in this article.

Rise of the zero-click search

Rand Fishkin of SparkToro has been tracking developments in Google for a long time. One of his works is researching the changes in how people search and where the clicks go, based on data by an analytics firm. From his recent reports emerges an interesting trend: less than 50% of all the searches lead to a click! These are the so-called zero-click searches.

Over half of all searches don’t lead to a click

Of course, the decline of the click can partly be attributed to the rise in rich results. For many queries, these results — like featured snippets, answer boxes and knowledge graphs — tend to answer the exact question a searcher has. Often, leaving the searcher without the need to click on to a full article. Since Google is working hard to understand languages, entities, and intents better, it is no surprise that it manages to answer an increasing number and ever harder set of questions right there.

In addition to upping their skills, Google is also expanding its own properties in search. For industries such as travel, you can almost book a complete trip without ever leaving Google. It won’t be long before that last hurdle will be gone as well. Of course, end-users love interacting with rich results as they often solve their needs immediately.

These developments are Google helping win an enormous amount of traffic to its own properties, from YouTube to Flights and Jobs to Events, leaving regular companies and individuals struggling to find room to shine in the SERPs. One of the means you could turn to combat this is called on-SERP SEO.

What is on-SERP SEO?

With on-SERP SEO, you try to get as much exposure for a query — or your brand — on Google’s front page as possible. That doesn’t mean you should write ten articles on your main topic in the hopes of them all showing up on page one of Google because that’s a pipe dream. No, it’s about owning all the areas where it counts: 

  • A featured snippet
  • A highly-ranking post
  • The knowledge graph panel
  • People Also Ask boxes
  • Image search
  • Video search
  • Local three-pack
  • And maybe run an ad or two for your brand

Combined, these SERP elements will give you maximum exposure for your brand. In addition, visibility might lead to better CTR. Nevertheless, it might be a good idea to look at sources of traffic/visibility outside of Google’s clutches.

Got to occupy that brand space, right?

Note: Last week, Google changed how they handle duplicate URLs for posts that have a featured snippet. In the past, the featured snippet was at position 0, but now it is basically number 1. The regular result from that featured snippet is dropped from the results, leaving only the featured snippet. This might impact how you approach your work and it might make it harder to ‘own’ the SERPs.

How can it benefit your site?

The main reason for working on your on-SERP SEO is enhancing the visibility of your brand. Not everything is about traffic! It does beg to differ if you can make the investment in on-SERP SEO. It doesn’t always lead to more traffic, so you must ask yourself if you can live with not getting traffic from that high-profile featured snippet.

For many searches and industries, it is hard to occupy a load of search results page features. So, what you can do depends on who you are — or who you are working for, of course. Non-branded searches make it hard to get into the knowledge graph, for instance. Do investigate and see what you can achieve!

How to start with on-SERP SEO

The process of on-SERP SEO consists of several parts. First, you need to find out how you are doing. Where are people coming from? How are they finding you? What’s the CTR for your main keyphrases? Plus, how are all these numbers trending?

When you’ve painted a picture of your situation, you start looking at the SERPs and try to find opportunities to stand out.

Look at the SERPs

Looking at the SERPs is incredibly rewarding — and an essential task. Not only will it give you an idea of what’s going in your industry, for your keyphrases or your brand, but it will also signal opportunities. You also have to look at what’s not there. When you finally know your SERPs inside out you see the changes Google makes unfolding before your eyes. What’s more, you might be ready to act if needed.

You’ll notice rich results — like featured snippets — pop up and disappear, and you’ll see different elements move around the page. Plus, you see what your competitors are doing. You’ll also notice ranking changes when they appear. Several SEO suites — like Moz Pro and SEMrush — provide tools to track what happens to SERPs and which SERP features appear for certain keyphrases. 

If you have a solid understanding of your relevant SERPs you might pick up a chance to shine along the way. Be sure to act if it makes sense!

Find opportunities

There are many answers to be found in the SERPs, but don’t be scared to start thinking outside the box. There are several ways to increase your site’s visibility in search. Let’s go over a couple of ones.

Improve search intent-based content

A very helpful tool in your arsenal is search intent research. Try to find out how and when people end up on your site and map that to your customer journey. Did you miss a couple of spots? Can you appear earlier in the journey? What do the SERPs look like for every step of the journey and does your content match does touchpoints? 

Improve your keyphrase-based work

Search engines are getting better at defining what a query is actually about, but they are nowhere near faultless in matching that with a correct response. This means that you should still provide search engines with every detail you can think about. So, it makes sense to look into search intent, but it also makes sense to do old-fashioned keyword research. But now, don’t simply look at which words have the highest traffic potential, but also a good chance at a click!

Research featured snippets

A prominent spot at the top of the search results — who doesn’t want that? Getting a featured snippet is a good way of getting in the spotlights. It’s not always easy to get clicks from a featured snippet, but if you do the results can be interesting to see. It might not even be necessary to do it all for the clicks, because featured snippets can also be used to build trust or increase brand awareness.

Getting a featured snippet takes work and is a lot easier if you already rank on page one with your content. That means you should prioritize getting featured snippets for content that’s already doing well. Don’t forget to check if your research is pointing you to new chances.

Enhance visual and video search

On-SERP SEO also means improving the findability of your images and video. For your main keyphrases, your visual content needs to come out on top. Don’t have visual content pop up on image search for your brand or keyphrases? Don’t have videos? Well, you know what to do if you want to fully occupy the SERPs. The Yoast Video SEO add-on helps you get those videos in search.

Manage your social media

Your social media can appear in searches for your brand — tweets in search and links in the knowledge graph panel —, so it’s good to put work in those profiles. They don’t really push traffic, but people may view these profiles to form an opinion on your business. 

Add structured data

Structured data is incredibly important for search engines to truly understand what your site is about. By using structured data correctly for any given topic (recipes, events, jobs et cetera), search engines might even reward you with a rich result listing. This means your search result is highlighted, meaning it will take up more real estate in the SERPs. Yoast SEO automatically adds a lot of Schema structured data to your site for the most important properties. You can also use the Yoast SEO content blocks to build FAQ pages and how-to articles that stand out in the search results.

Improve your local listing

It’s important to look at what your site is doing locally. Google My Business is a must-have if you want your business to stand out in the local results. Curate your listing, manage reviews and finetune your photos. Having a lively local profile can really help your visibility and brand awareness.

Take out ads for your brand

Ever since Google is running ads right under the search bar, it is a good idea to take out ads for your own brand — or keywords, if they are affordable. This way, you get an extra spot at the top that Google can’t take away from you. In addition, it prevents a competitor from advertising in your name. 

Conclusion about on-SERP SEO

In the age of declining clicks, you need all the help you can get to stay visible for the searcher. One of the things you can do is look at the SERPs to try and find ways to occupy a lot of real-estate. On-SERP SEO can help you increase brand awareness. It also helps you gain new insights into what’s changing in Google and how you can react to that.

It doesn’t make sense to go all-out with on-SERP SEO for all your keyphrases. But, it does make sense to make your brand stand out, which is easier because you have most of the tools available to get that knowledge panel and ad listing.

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2020 Prediction Month: Google Increases Efforts to Integrate More UI Features – Eric Enge // Perficient Digital

Episode Overview: Google’s initiatives to update and expand its search ecosystem in 2019 led to major gains for the company, changing the way SEOs utilize and interact with their platform. Their efforts are already bearing fruit, as they’ve begun to draw more users to its platform and ecommerce experience with intuitive UI features. Join host Ben as he speaks with Eric Enge, chief manager at Perficient Digital to analyze Google’s new UI features, how they impact SEOs and what tactics to use to get the most benefit from them.

Summary

  • Google integrating more UI features demonstrates they’re aiming to obtain more revenue by keeping visitors on the platform longer and incentivizing users to use their platform more.
  • Google’s efforts to consolidate content into “Pure walled gardens,” could potentially backfire, angering the SEO community and users as it diminishes their opportunities to upsell, build relationships and retarget consumers.
  • Enge advises SEOs to carefully determine which UI features serve their business best and to take advantage of them to maximize their brand’s reach and overall performance.

GUESTS & RESOURCES

Ben:                 Welcome to 2020 Predictions Month on the Voices of Search podcast. I’m your host Benjamin Shapiro and this month we’re looking into the crystal ball to tell you SEOs and content marketers what you can expect in 2020. Joining us for SEO Predictions Month is Eric Enge, who’s the Principal of Digital Marketing at Perficient Digital, which is a leading digital transformation consulting firm serving enterprise customers with unparalleled information technology, management consulting and creative capabilities. Today Eric is going to share his predictions for why Google will be integrating more features into its UI in 2020. Okay, so here’s my conversation with Eric Enge, Principal for Digital Marketing at Perficient Digital. Eric, welcome back to the Voices of Search podcast.

Eric:                 Thanks, Benjamin. Thanks for having me back.

Ben:                 I think it’s your third time on the show. I officially think we can call you a friend of the pod. Great to catch up again.

Eric:                 Oh, what an interesting title, friend of the pod. I think I have to change like a tagline on my Twitter handle to that or something.

Ben:                 I’ll be honest, we stole it from Pod Save America. We’re going to print t-shirts, but we need something more SEO focused.

Eric:                 Ah, there you go.

Ben:                 We’re going to optimize your LinkedIn profile one podcast appearance at a time. Let’s start off with your SEO predictions. It’s a new year. We’ve got a clean slate. Tell us a little bit about what you think is going to be happening with Google. You mentioned offline that you think they are going to be integrating more features into the UI. You did some research. Tell us about your predictions for 2020 and how is it going to affect Google’s front end?

Eric:                 I do think it’s actually a really important ongoing initiative at Google to keep implementing and testing out new ways of improving the overall search results from their perspective. Improving is in their definition of what improving is. Just to be clear, the kinds of things I’m talking about that we’ve all already seen. We’ve seen the featured snippets, which are the kinds of instant answers which are sourced from third party websites. We’ve seen a knowledge panel or knowledge graph results, which are things like how many ounces in a pound kind of things, where Google just answers quick factual questions.

Ben:                 Sixteen, right?

Eric:                 Very good.

Ben:                 All right.

Eric:                 Local search results, image carousels, video carousels, news results, people also ask boxes. There’s so many different kinds of features. They are going to keep doing more of these things.

Ben:                 Eric, let me ask you, tell me the underlying reason why all of this is happening.

Eric:                 Sure. Basically what Google is trying to do is ultimately they’re trying to get more revenue from their platform. There’s two different ways they can do that. One is that they can go ahead and do things where they monetize each visitor better, and they might do that by keeping the visitor on their platform more. Then the other way they can do that is that they can cause people to use the service more. Let’s talk about both of those in turn. The first part is, in terms of monetizing the platform more, well, in theory if the users get the answers that they need from Google on platform without having to leave, they might continue to engage more with the platform and do more things which will eventually lead to them clicking something. That’s one way to increase revenue, right?

Ben:                 Right.

Eric:                 The other way is to increase usage because the results they provide are so satisfying to users that the users just want to keep coming back and getting more and more answers out of Google rather than migrating off to other ways of getting answers, like asking your friend via text or something like that.

Ben:                 There’s an interesting juxtaposition of the SEO community and Google here, where us as a community of content marketers and content optimizers are sitting here saying, “I’m doing my best to get my content to be recognized by Google as the best possible piece of content.” Then Google is turning around and saying, “Thanks for the information. I’m going to present that to the consumer on Google.com in a way that only gets them to consume the content on my domain and you get no additional trackable value out of it.” I understand from a Google perspective, they’re big enough that they could pull this off where they essentially are not necessarily stealing, but they’re taking content from websites and they’re presenting it as essentially their own, or at least in their own experience, and providing no value to the creators of that content, or less or little value to the creators of that content.

Ben:                 Don’t you think that there’s risk for Google in this scenario where they’re bringing everything into the answer box, they’re bringing all of these UIs? It seems like I agree with you that this is a path that they’re going down more and more to keep people sort of within their walled garden, but it also seems like there’s some potential backlash from the SEO community. We’re starting to see that with the Rap Genius lawsuit and some of the other things that have happened in 2019. How do you feel about Google’s strategy, and are they taking on more risk?

Eric:                 Well, there’s an inherent risk and I think it’s much broader than the SEO community. Google, first of all, pure walled gardens don’t work, never have never will. Users don’t want them. If Google tries to keep people too much on the Google platform and they exceed some level of acceptable norm, it’s the users who will seek other answers and their usage level will go down. I think there’s a dynamic tension there where Google has to set a balance of not going too far in order to not threaten their market share, basically, in their use. Yes, people say Google doesn’t have any competitors. Sure they do. They have calling your friend is a competitor. Texting your friend is a competitor. Going to Amazon is a competitor, right? There’s a lot of different places that users can go get things. Yes, going to Bing is a competitor. It might be in the appropriate place in that list since I had it about fourth. Yeah, there are different things that provide some dynamic tensions.

Ben:                 Understood. It’s interesting to hear you say it’s … Basically what I’m inferring from this is Google doesn’t necessarily care about how the SEO community feels about their content being repurposed on Google’s domain. They’re only going to act and start changing the user experience when the end consumers start asking for it. This is a question of whether they can not necessarily get away with it, but they’re going to take as much content and put it on their platform as they possibly can and let the users decide what is enough value and what’s enough value and utility on the Google domain or when they want to bounce to another experience.

Eric:                 Well, that’s not actually what I meant to imply exactly. Let me clarify a little bit. I think the more important pressure is from users on Google than the SEO community. Yes, the SEO community matters to a degree too, but I went to the user side of the answer because it’s the more fundamental issue. It speaks right to the core of their business.

Eric:                 Now let me just talk a little bit about, since you’ve alluded to it here, or actually you were quite direct about it, on the featured snippets side of things. That’s the case where featured snippets, again, is a thing where Google will crawl a third party website, see what’s potentially an answer to a user’s question, render content from that website directly in their search results and they get an attribution link as credit for being the source of that information. That’s, in principle, what a featured snippet is supposed to be. That trade, as it were, in other words, we use your content, you get an attribution link, might not be as good as the original trade that publishers have with Google, which is that Google would show publishers’ listings in their result and you get traffic, you get all the traffic. Now you don’t get all the traffic is the way the argument goes.

Ben:                 Yeah, essentially winning the game is a little less valuable because even when you win, when you show up in the top result, when you are a featured snippet, no one’s actually being directed to your lending experience, which doesn’t give you the customer relationship. It speaks to the changes of SEO becoming more of a brand channel than it is a performance marketing channel. There’s still value out of being seen in a featured snippet, but you’re just not getting the user to your domain. You don’t get the ability to upsell, cross sell, build the relationship, re-target. That’s really where therein lies the rub of what’s the value of SEO when Google is starting to own the relationship or not sending people to another domain.

Eric:                 Yeah. There’s no question, and this is the reason why I put it the way I did, the nature of the deal between the publisher and Google has evolved because of featured snippets. The brand value might not be seen as good. I’m still in the process of trying to dig out data, by the way, which determines whether or not the clicks to the site showing in the featured snippet in fact decline. I don’t think we’ve actually seen clear data on that yet, but there is reason to believe that it might in many cases. Yeah, it is a big change. I think it’s one that is hard to swallow for a lot of people, but on the other hand, almost everybody that I see in the SEO community is talking about what they can do to earn more featured snippets.

Ben:                 Talk to me about some of the data that you’ve pulled and some of the analysis that you’ve done evaluating some of the value of featured snippets and why they’re important.

Eric:                 Sure. First of all, let me just briefly explain the source of the data, which is we worked with a company called Authority Labs. What we did is we got search ranking data and click stream data, the same 2 million queries tracked on a daily basis for 30 consecutive days. From that we were able to build some detailed models on how different search features impact search results. Among other things, we saw that in the organic world about a third of all queries end up in no click, and in the mobile world slightly more than half, I think it’s around 54% of all queries end up in no click. The user either gets the answer they want directly from Google or they click the related search or modified their search query or didn’t click on anything. That’s interesting already on the surface to see how large that landscape is.

Eric:                 We also have done some testing that suggests that in the area of featured snippets that there is a small degradation in the number of total clicks that go out to the SERP as a whole. We haven’t yet isolated down that data to see how it impacts the person ranking number one or who got the featured snippet. It does look like there is clearly an indication that people are getting their answers from the featured snippet rather than clicking through, at least from a [inaudible].

Ben:                 You’re doing some analysis to say, look, there’s only a certain percentage of people that are going to click to begin with and there is value. People are still reading the information from the featured snippet. How do you quantify what that value is?

Eric:                 I have no idea.

Ben:                 Fair. There still is some value and people are actually consuming the featured snippet is the conclusion here.

Eric:                 Yeah. I mean, clearly it’s better value if they click through to your site. The question we’re still working on answering is just, is the person getting the featured snippet in fact getting fewer clicks or not? I hope to have that answer sometime over the next couple of weeks.

Ben:                 Well, stay tuned. We’ll have to have you back on the show. At the end of the day, the prediction here is that there’s going to be more featured snippets and more changes to the UI where Google is presenting information that is not necessarily owned by Google. Any other places where you think we will see Google put in more featured snippets? Any predictions for how the UI will change?

Eric:                 Well, it isn’t just featured snippets, first of all, just for clarity. I think that’s one of the big areas is featured snippets for sure, but I think it’s also more different types of search featured. I think Google is on a journey to try many different experiments, and that’s why we keep continually seeing new kinds of things show up in the search results. We all read SEO Roundtable and Barry Schwartz when he puts out the latest spotted in the wild, this new thing has happened in the search results. I think that journey is going to continue, especially in the mobile environment, because I do think that Google is pressing as many different ways as they can to leverage the immense data they have to find ways to create what they consider a more engaging experience and a more enriching for Google experience.

Ben:                 I think the headline here is that SEOs need to keep an eye on some of the UI changes for Google. While it’s going to be harder to quantify the value that brands are getting from their search experience, there’s going to be more of an opportunity with submitting your content directly to Google and formatting your content in a way that makes it appropriate for Google to grab that allows you to get ahead of the line, essentially win the search experience.

Eric:                 Yes. The key for publishers is learn to take advantage of all of Google’s search features that apply to your business. Does it make sense for you to be doing YouTube videos? Then do that. Does it make sense for you to be playing an image search? Then do that. Does it make sense for you to chase featured snippets? You’ve got to take advantage of this changing search landscape to maximize your yield. Just straight webpages isn’t going to … Yeah, you can get a lot out of them but you’ll get a lot more if you’d play a much bigger game.

Ben:                 Okay, and that wraps up this episode of the Voices of Search podcast. Thanks for listening to my conversation with Eric Enge, Principal of Digital Marketing at Perficient Digital. In part two of this interview, which we’re going to publish tomorrow, Eric is going to discuss why visual search is more important than voice search in 2020. If you can’t wait until our next episode and you’d like to contact Eric, you can find the link to his LinkedIn profile in our show notes. You can contact him on Twitter where his handle is StoneTemple, S-T-O-N-E-T-E-M-P-L-E, or you can visit his company’s website which is Perficient Digital, P-E-R-F-I-C-I-E-N-T Digital.com. Just one link in our show notes that I’d like to tell you about, if you didn’t have a chance to take notes while you were listening to this podcast, head over to VoicesofSearch.com, where we have summaries of all of our episodes and contact information for our guests. You can also send us your topic suggestions, your SEO questions, or apply to be a guest speaker on the Voices of Search podcast as well.

Ben:                 Of course, you can always reach out on social media. Our handle for the show is VoicesofSearch on Twitter, or you can reach out to me directly. My handle is BenJShap, B-E-N-J-S-H-A-P. If you haven’t subscribed yet and you want a regular stream of SEO and content marketing insights in your podcast feed, in addition to part two of our conversation with Eric Enge, Principal of Digital Marketing at Perficient Digital, we’re going to publish content multiple times a week, so hit the subscribe button in your podcast app and we’ll be back in your feed soon. Okay. That’s it for today. Until next time, remember, the answers are always in the data.