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The Ugly Truth About SEO

Google plays a pretty big role in our everyday lives. On Google, we can get directions, find recipes, buy a car, and find a job. It’s also been a valuable tool in the building and marketing of businesses through search engine optimization.

Recently, however, things have been changing at Google in a very big way, and the impact of these changes on SEO marketing efforts have many marketers concerned. Since Google is the largest, most popular search engine on the internet, these changes not only impact our user experiences on Google’s search, it’s changing SEO as we know it in ways that will make it more difficult to see desired results.

Scary SEO Changes

Google isn’t making changes because of any decline in natural activity or drop in searches. Google has been making adjustments because of changes in how we use their search engine prompted in part by the rise of mobile and voice search. The changes are also intended to improve and streamline user experience.

The result is the removal of some organic search results through changes like the following.

Answer Boxes: If you type in “What time is it in Paris?”, Google gives you an answer box with Paris, France, the current time there along with the date and the timezone. Google provides the answer with no need to click on any websites below that might be presented in your search results. If a definite answer isn’t offered, a selection of knowledge card results is given with a list of options.

  • Google Goes Commercial: When it comes to searching for many things from flights to local listings, you’ll notice fewer options in your results. If you look up a flight from your local airport to New York City, you’re likely to get results from Google itself showing airlines offering flights, available dates, durations, and prices. It’s meant to keep your attention on Google’s listing instead of any listings in the results below:
  • Local SERPS That Need No Websites: More often than not when searching for local products and services, local SERPS are presented to users in such a way that there’s no need to click on any websites linked to those products or services. Sometimes no links are provided.
  • Zero-Results SERPS: Earlier in 2018, Google ran a sizable test with zero-results SERPS. This experiment, according to Danny Sullivan at Google, removed organic search results from a set of established queries that have definitive answers like “What time is it in Houston?” SERPS are returned showing answer boxes with a “Show all results” button following it. The trial concluded on March 20, 2018. If and when Google rolls these back out, it’s possible more organic search engine results will diminish.

How Users Impact Our SEO

Many marketers are so focused on keywords and or other SEO techniques that they miss perhaps one of the best tools they have to work with — user behavior data. Research shows many organization use less than 5% of any available user data when planning their content campaigns. Smart marketers know review management software can explain how your business stacks up in customer interaction. If you can find trends in how your users interact with your website, you can use that to fine-tune your SEO strategies and significantly boost your efforts.

The changes in the search engine algorithms have shifted the focus more to the end user. While the SEO tactics we’ve used are still relevant, it’s more important now to know the intent behind our users’ searches as they relate to the algorithms.

What Can Marketers Can Do Moving Forward

While SEO is becoming harder, there are still ways for smart marketers to promote and remain competitive.

Focus on brands and branded product names – instead of focusing on demand serving, we can focus on demand generation. In an open search for vegan vitamin supplements, we’ll often get a list of the best supplements or comparison articles. A carousel may appear at the bottom of our results page that offers brands as a refinement. It would be wiser to put our efforts into optimizing the particular brand because Google isn’t likely to take away the ability to maximize one’s brand names. The same idea can be applied different marketing techniques, and more.

Using Multiple Platforms

Youtube, owned by Google, is the second largest search engine on the internet and it’s projected that by 2021 the majority of all internet traffic will be video. With that in mind, it would seem that optimizing for Youtube would be a great idea. Other platforms like Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, Twitter and more also offer substantial amounts of traffic that could be optimized for.

In Conclusion

While change is scary, SEO still lives and can still be used. An understanding of our audience and how they interact with our sites is something to study and apply to our efforts. Most importantly, a willingness to roll with the changes and to find solutions for the issues created by Google’s adjustments will help us to remain effective marketers in the new era of SEO.

References:

Zero-Result SERPs: Welcome to the Future We Should’ve Known Was Coming

Why Do You Need Review Management Software?

Big Data Will Help Shape Your Market’s Next Big Winners

Search Engine Algorithm Basics

Video will account for an overwhelming majority of internet traffic by 2021

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