Aside from user experience, the search is probably the second most important intent behind any SEO strategy. Still, many SEO professionals dare to neglect the vitality of this factor for the ranking and growth of their target websites.
As we are all aware, search engines regularly change their algorithms in order to make them better and more efficient for producing more effective search results. This, while benefits the end user, makes the job of SEO people more difficult and many of them start losing confidence in their own SEO capabilities.
Well, if you’re also worried whether you’re doing everything possible to optimize your website and promote it to the target user, this guide will help you with the tips to survive in the new world of search engine marketing. Here, you’ll also get to know about the new trends changing the search space and how marketers can modify their content/search strategies for the same.
New Factors Affecting Search Results and How to Be Ready for Them
Mobile-first Site Indexing
Mobile-first indexing is probably the biggest search engine algorithm shifts by Google that we have seen in the past year or so. It involves indexing the mobile version of a web page rather than the desktop version to analyze the user-friendliness and to determine the ranking of a website. The idea is clear – make your website mobile responsive and optimize for the end users, and not the search engines.
Google, in a tweet published on June 14, 2018, had denied treating mobile-first index as a ranking factor, saying that “The mobile-first index doesn’t change anything for ranking other than that the mobile content is used.” However, it accepts that mobile-friendliness continues to remain an important factor in determining the ranking of a web page.
In the last year or so, Google has reportedly started giving the mobile version of a website preference over the desktop version for the purpose of rankings. That means, SEO consultants need to seriously consider things like mobile responsiveness of their sites and improving the mobile user experience if they want to rank at all in search engines like Google.
What to do (Suggestion By Experienced SEO Company): Update your website and content regularly to make them responsive to mobile devices. Instead of creating mobile and desktop versions of your site, create and maintain a single, mobile-responsive site which works seamlessly across all devices and screen sizes.
User Experience is the New King
Besides mobile-friendliness and content quality, user experience is another most important factor in Google’s list for analyzing the worth of a website. Things like the impression your website is leaving on its visitors and value it is providing to them will now have a great impact on whether or where your site ranks in Google.
Google’s latest RankBrain algorithm has been designed with the specific aim to make search results more relevant and user-focused. The algorithm uses machine learning to learn from user search data and behavior and show the most relevant results accordingly. Hence, it will adapt search results and rankings of a web page according to the past user experiences.
Basically, user-experience is going to be the new important factor in determining the value, and therefore ranking, of a web page.
What to do: Optimize your site for improving the overall user experience. Learn how Google’s RankBrain algorithm works and adapt your SEO strategies to optimize for the same. The ultimate aim of your marketing strategy should be to improve your site for better user experience.
Voice search is one of the new giants making its contribution to your search engine ranking. Even though not many people are talking about it, they should.
The growing market and evolution of smart speakers is a clear indication that the future will be of voice-based searches. This is why search engines like Google and e-commerce giants like Amazon have started offering voice-operated search services to their users. At the same time, Google is allegedly considering voice optimization as a factor for determining the page rankings.
Do not believe us? Take a look at some of the voice search statistics below.
- According to comScore data, 50% of all searches will be voice-based by 2020.
- As of 2017, 13% of US households owned a smart speaker, and the count is expected to grow by 42% by 2022.
- As of January 2018, close to one billion voice searches are being performed every month.
As smart speakers and other voice assistant devices grow in popularity, more and more people will be searching through voice.
What to do: As the way people search for information continues to be dominated by voice, it is crucial that online businesses and marketers start adapting their strategies for voice search. As you may already know, smart speakers show only one result per search query, and therefore, it is not going to be easy to reach the top of the SERP for voice search results, as it was for normal searches.
Optimization for no-click Features
Wondering what no-click features are? No-click or zero-click SERP is a feature by Google where the best-possible answer to a search query is shown right at the top of the search result page. Over the past years, Google has gradually expanded its no-click zone to display a variety of content such as answer boxes, knowledge panels and featured snippets.
The purpose of Google’s self-hosted search answers was to increase user experience and convenience, but it has had a negative impact on other web pages in search results which are seeing a notable decrease in their link clicks.
While Google’s immediate search results provide convenience to consumers looking for instant answers to their queries, it is increasing the woes of marketers leaving them few choices for search result optimization. After all, what more can you do when no one is clicking your links even after they’re appearing on the first page of SERP?
What to do: As you may know, Google shows quick answers by fetching data from search result links only. One option, therefore, would be to work for clicks rather than offering direct answers to users’ queries. For that, you can emphasize data-driven stories and interactive features on your web pages. Another solution is to build your brand reputation such that users search you by your brand name rather than by keywords.
ROI Vs. Search Rankings or Clicks
It is high time that marketers start understanding the value of results, which is even more important than rankings. With Google literally showing signs of being ready to do whatever it takes to improve user experience, even if that means sending less traffic to the actual websites, marketers should rather shift their focus on the most important thing – ROI.
ROI is the ultimate, real metric which can tell whether your website is doing well or not. So, even if you’re not getting good rankings in search engine results, but maintaining a high ROI for the target website, it should be considered a good thing.
What to do: Start by accepting that it is OK if you’re losing clicks from search engines. Shift your focus on building influence and authority. After all, these are the two most important things that are going to ultimately pay you in terms of increased ROI.
A solid content marketing strategy accompanied by proficiency in content can give you much more returns than any search marketing strategy will ever give. Your ultimate aim should be to compel consumers to view your business as the only reliable source for the information/service they are looking for. It is OK not to get clicks, as long as you’re building influence.
Search engines have adapted a lot over the past years and will continue to change in the coming years. It is good if you’re competing well against those shifts and still ranking well for your target keywords. But it is also ok even if you’re not. Rather than counting clicks or building a lot of links, your focus should be more on building experiences by creating content that can actually fulfill customers’ needs and make them convert.
Like I said before, the user experience will rule the search marketing world this year and beyond. And the best way to create a great user experience is by creating great, engaging and informative content that makes people to not only click your search results but also stay on the page. Google loves that!
Got a topic you would like us to write about or want answers to your search engine related questions? Write your suggestions or queries in the comments. Feel free to share this article with your friends, family on social media to spread the word.
About the Author:
Amit Gupta is the CEO and founder at SAG IPL, an India-based technology firm providing a range of service/software solutions in the web development, design, app development, and SEO industries.
Double Your Growth.
We curate the best of inbound marketing news and send over the top 10 we know will contribute to your growth - once a month.