Guest blog by Pim Broekstra from SAM Online Marketing
There has been a striking trend going on within Google in the last few years: the gradual decrease in CTR. From research of Perficient it has been found that only half of the searches actually yield a click to the website. Google tries to give visitors an immediate answer and save a click, but this cuts the fingers of every company that relies on SEO. Fortunately, there is still light at the end of the tunnel, because there are solutions!
How is visitor behavior influenced by Google itself?
Before we look at a solution, it is first good to thoroughly investigate how Google influences the behavior of its searchers these days.
When Google offers a new feature, a small piece of the visitor's attention is lost. With all snippets, videos, images and other overviews, the visitor's gaze shoots across the entire screen, instead of the clear, linear way in which visitors used to work. Below is an example of today's SERPs, compared to the earlier version.
As you can see, there are more and more parts nowadays that grab the visitor's attention. These ultimately benefit the visitor - they get an immediate answer to their question, instead of having to go 'all the way' to a website first. Because they receive this answer immediately, the need to visit a website is no longer necessary.
There is nothing we can do about the way Google maps the SERPs. What we can influence is the way we profile ourselves. This is by building a fire. Of course you always have to build a name for yourself, but this is also crucial from an SEO point of view. This statement is underlined once again by research by this same party Perficient, the results of which speak volumes below.
As you can see, the CTR on branded keywords is many times higher than the CTR on non-branded keywords. But what exactly are the steps you can take to respond to this phenomenon?
1. Create an Omnichannel strategy
The first step you can take is to make SEO part of an all-encompassing, larger strategy. If you attract fewer visitors via Google, make sure you approach these visitors in several places. Make sure to leave an email address for email marketing, use remarketing via display and social ads or offer a unique discount that gives them reason to visit your website again.
Another way to generate more traffic via Google is to get to know your brand in the first steps of the customer journey (more about this later). Give them a reason to look up your company name in Google. In fact, this is a way to generate more authority in Google in the long run. The so-called 'brand + keyword' search terms are a very strong indication for Google that you are actually an expert in that field. This phenomenon is especially true in retail. Suppose you search for 'Zalando shorts', this gives Google the impression that Zalando is apparently an interesting party in the field of shorts.
2. Respond to the right step in the customer journey
I just went into it briefly, but it's important to put SEO in perspective. It is not only a platform to generate direct purchases and leads, but you can respond to many more stages within the customer journey. Create an FAQ on your website, to which you link separate pages per section. People who are new to the topic will meet you as one of the first parties and automatically assume that you are one of the experts in your field. When they are in the process of making a purchase, you can respond to this in the right way and when you come back into the picture, they will soon go for you.
3. Take advantage of the possibilities of Google
The fact that Google is considerably expanding the content of the SERPs does not mean that you cannot respond to this. By seizing the possibilities of Google, you ensure that you are still in the picture at any time. Below the main features:
The first part you can tackle is implementing featured snippets. By optimizing your website in the right way, you ensure that your website is featured prominently in Google, as shown in the image below. Do you want to implement featured snippets yourself? read here then how.
Google My Business
Properly setting up and implementing a Google My Business account is also a wonderful way to enrich Google's SERPs with yourself. Often times, this account comes into the picture on business-related terms, but there is a chance that you will come into the picture on other terms. They immediately receive information about your company and really get to know you.
Do you provide a service? Then the best way to achieve immediate results is optimization for the local pack. Whole volumes can be written about how to optimize your website for this, but the most important thing here is a constant return of NAP and collecting as many qualitative citations as possible. This includes reviews.
Do you mainly sell products? Then the rich snippets are a nice addition. Hereby you immediately give away information to visitors that can give visitors that little push to click on your website. With rich snippets you can think of ratings in the form of stars and a number, but also product prices.
4. Keyword optimization
When someone searches for your company name, they not only literally type in your full name as indicated at the Chamber of Commerce. Especially when there are more branded searches, there is more variation in the terms that people search for. Therefore, make sure that you design your website for these terms and that you also advertise on these terms. After all, you don't want your competitors to pick up visitors who actually want you.
5. Affect branded SERPs
Finally, you want to influence the SERPs on your own company name as much as possible and leave as little room as possible for other parties. First of all, you do this by means of the rich and featured snippets that are indicated earlier. However, in an ideal scenario, it will take up your entire first page. This can be done through the socials, various company pages, news sites and other options. Make sure you come back to as many places as possible and make sure that the entire first page is yours!
The conclusion we can draw from this is that Google has acquired an unwise position of power over the years, in which we are dependent on the whims and whims of the search engine. However, by using both the algorithm and the possibilities as well as possible and building a strong brand for yourself, where search engine optimization is an (important) part of the bigger picture, you ensure that you keep your head above water.
Guest blog by Pim Broekstra from SAM Online Marketing