Google is monopolising more and more SERP space. Between paid ads, knowledge graphs, answer cards, featured snippets and the “people also ask” feature, all of that beautiful SEO content you created has been pushed WAAAAY down the results page. These Google features have been found to reduce clicks by up to 19%. So if Google is trying to answer as many queries as possible within the SERP, optimising your content to provide those answers is no longer a guaranteed way to drive organic traffic.
It’s time to focus less on optimising your content and more on optimising your brand.
Let’s call the whole thing off
Sure, we’re all upset with Google. We gave it quality content for years to enable it to grow into a multi-billion dollar business by serving that content to its searchers – the deal was meant to be that we got clicks to our sites in return. Now 34% of desktop searches and 63% of mobile searches result in no clicks whatsoever. So shall we all just throw our laptops out of the window and go home? Not quite yet.
SEO is evolving, and search marketers need to evolve with it. It’s never been more important to make sure all of your marketing channels are working together so that you can optimise your presence across every platform.
These are some of the ways you can be optimising your brand for organic traffic, with or without a search engine!
1. If you can’t beat ‘em…
Let’s face it, you can’t beat Google. It’s too late for that, they are our overlords now. So we’re going to need to work within the system.
Optimise your content for featured snippets and answer cards by providing answers to relevant questions in a clear, succinct way. Provide an answer in the first paragraph, but include a sentence that will make people want to learn more to tempt them to still come to your site.
Make sure that your Google Knowledge Graph and Google My Business listing are accurate and up-to-date, and pay attention to what competitors are doing to identify other opportunities.
2. Social searching
A growing number of consumers are searching for businesses or products on social media, before they even get to a search engine. 75% of customers use social media in the buying process in some way. Having a presence on the platforms that matter to your audience, optimised for the queries they’re making, is vital. As is driving strong engagement and positive reviews to build your reputation, and monitoring regularly for comments and queries so that you can guide those potential customers through the sales funnel.
All the PR professionals who’ve been hearing that traditional media is dead for the last few years can now rub their hands with glee. If you can’t rely on being found in search engines, you need to make sure you can be found on other sites that matter to your audience. Even if you are appearing on the SERPs, with so much information being given away click-free, making sure your reputation stands out so that you’re the result your audience chooses has never been more important.
4. Networks and influencers
Like traditional media, forming relationships with the people your customers follow and building a presence in the groups and other online spaces they frequent helps you to be found before a search even takes place, builds your authority and gets people talking about you. Rather than waiting for someone to search for your product, have influential people in your audience’s networks talk about your brand as a by-word for that product. You can’t get more optimised than that.
When life gives you lemons…
Underpinning all of these activities is a need to understand your audience. You need to know what questions they have, and where and how they’re asking them. These Google features may come with threats, but they also bring opportunities. Google’s autocomplete function gives you insight into the different variations on a particular query, and the “people also ask” feature gives you a whole host of related questions your customers have beyond your initial consideration. So make the most of what you can get from these features to gain insights into your audience.
It’s not just your audience you need to be clear on, though. You also need to have a thorough understanding of your brand – who you are, what your core values are and how that relates to the needs of your customers. Because that tells you what questions you need to be answering. Once you know that, you can set out to answer them in as many places as possible, establishing yourself as an authority that people (and Google) will turn to.
If you have any thoughts or questions on getting your brand found across the wide world of the web, feel free to tweet me @Allegra_Chapman.