How does the changing Google SERP affect different types of businesses?
Over the past few weeks we have posted a 10-post blog series focusing on the changing nature of Google’s search engine results page, and how searcher behaviour has changed accordingly. The blogs were based on Mediative’s latest research project, “Google’s Evolving Results Page and The Impact on Your Business” which can be downloaded for free.
In case you missed any of the previous blogs, you can access them again here:
- Google’s algorithm and search results page have changed significantly since 2005
- The Carousel
- The Knowledge Graph Box
- Local Listings
- Right Rail – Map and Knowledge Graph
- Sponsored Text Listings
- Organic Listings
But what do all these changes mean to the SERP mean for businesses?
I’m a national advertiser – what does this mean to me?
- For smaller brands trying to compete, consider other online and offline channels to build your brand name, or advertise niche products where competition will be less
- Paid search campaigns are essential to generate brand reach and direct traffic when there’s high competition for a top organic ranking. Structure your campaign around a competitive advantage that resonates with searchers (e.g. price, trust, convenience) and front load this content in your ad messaging.
- Ensure every product has a dedicated product page, optimized for titles, meta data, images, etc. Use schema mark-up to include rich-snippets below the listing.
I’m a location-based business – what does this mean to me?
- Local businesses have the opportunity to appear in several areas of the SERP – right rail map, local listings box, the carousel*, and organic listings. Optimize your Google+ Local pages with proper category choices and descriptions. Claim all store locations and ensure the listings are displaying the correct information.
- An essential element to a local SEO strategy is building content on your website that the searcher will find useful, and that will match a local searcher’s keywords and intent.
- Local searches often include regional/city modifiers. Build unique product/service pages by location for your website, and have a presence on local directories and review sites – establishing a consistent name, address, and phone number is vital to ranking in local search results.
- Create specific paid ad campaigns for each market served and leverage local-targeting options and ad messaging to fuel your search marketing strategy. Locally relevant content in the ad copy and on landing pages will increase phone calls and visits to your location, and decrease the cost-per-acquisition.
I’m an online publisher – what does this mean to me?
- Publishers rely heavily on unique visitors to pages on their site. Many publishers are likely to be negatively impacted by the knowledge graph, as searchers can get their answer directly on the SERP. Our study showed that there is still potential for clicks on the top organic listing, and it was looked at by the majority of participants, therefore publishers must take SEO seriously if they want to achieve a high organic ranking, and minimize the decline in organic traffic*.
- Paid search campaigns, and a strong SEO strategy can generate traffic from more broad searches (such as “currency converter” as opposed to “convert $100 CAD to USD”). Not all searchers will be so specific with their intent in the initial search, therefore, a sponsored listing, or a high ranked organic listing can capture significant traffic.
- Consider schema mark-up to make your listings stand out more on the SERP. Writing blogs and marking up for authorship could lead to more website traffic.
Metrics for measuring how online success has evolved
- 3 out of the 5 big element changes covered in this study do not necessarily require the user to click on the listing/placement to get the information: Carousel, Knowledge Graph & Local Listings. Impression data should be measured as a success metric. Given how much information can potentially be garnered about your business without a user having to leave the SERP, the listings have a similar effect in terms of brand awareness as a display ad – even if a click is not captured.
- Conversion rate must be measured to understand the quality of potential customers coming from search. Even if you are struggling to get a large impression and click share, you might be getting highly valuable clicks. Understanding the value of each organic visitor is important.
- Website visits or traffic generated from click activity has always been important and you should continue to measure this.
To learn more about Google’s new SERP, and the effects of the new listings elements on searcher behaviour, get our latest research: “The Evolution of Google Search Results Pages and Their Effects on User Behaviour”.