As of June 2019, a majority of SERP results receive 0 clicks!
That’s right, no clicks. Nada. Nil. ZERO.
How can I say this? Well, it’s not just me. This coming from search expert Rand Fishkin.
This has nothing to do with algorithm changes or any “behind the scenes” workings of the search engines. It’s all about the way Google’s (and other) search engine results pages (SERP) are configured. More and more, you’re seeing knowledge panels, answer boxes, and featured snippets that are taking up real estate on the search page and they’re often answering the questions that people are searching to find. The means that they no longer have to click through to your website to get the answer they seek.
They’re getting it right on the search results page!
Because of this, it can be argued that Google itself is turning into the competition!
If you’re not familiar with these SERP features, here’s a quick overview:
These are information boxes that appear on Google when you search for people, places or things. In this case, Rand Fishkin was searched and to the right of the search is the knowledge panel.
SEO Knowledge Panel
The answer box is a feature on the SERP that is powered by either a knowledge graph or it’s information that Google has scraped from a website.
The answer box is also referred to as Position Zero because it shows up above all other listings. You can optimize for this but we will make that a future blog post.
Of these two SERP features, the answer box is the competition to most websites. Normally, you optimized pages on your website to answer the questions that people were asking or to target specific terms they were searching to find information for.
Now, they often get their answer without even noticing your site or even if you’re website page is in the 1st or 2nd position on the search results page! Roughly 50% of searches never even bother to click your search link. So why bother with SEO?
Because they are still doing the searches on the search engines and they are still clicking on the links. However, smart SEOs now also optimize for position zero and the answer boxes too. SEO has become more complicated than ever before and there simply is no “one stop shop” when it comes to optimizing for your search results.
Now We’ve Got BERT
We have written about Google’s BERT update in October 2019 before.
BERT is Google’s biggest algorithm update in the past five years. According to Search Engine Land, BERT will impact roughly 10%, 1 in 10, of all search queries.
BERT stands for “Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers”. To put that into layman’s tongue, BERT is a learning algorithm that focuses on natural language processing to figure out the answer to “what does the user really want”.
The important part of this algorithm update is that BERT is applied to both rankings and featured snippets. The Answer box is one of these featured snippets so, this seems to indicate that we can expect to see an increase in the answer box snippet as a result of the direction that Google is taking. Thus knowing how to optimize for “position zero” is a vital part of your SEO strategy and will become only more important as this trend continues.
What Can You Do?
There are a couple of things that you can do, strategically, to try to minimize the fall out of your search traffic. First, you should check out our 100% FREE, no obligation Google TOP 10 SEO Checklist. This is absolutely FREE of charge and gives you critical knowledge of your sites SEO health that you can use as you wish. Toss it away, take it to your current SEO team or, as we hope, let us help your bottom line and get you more traffic. Then we can help you to do the following (among other things):
Get In The Box:
If Google is going to have answer boxes at the zero position, get your website listed in one. You may not get traffic from that listing but at least you’ll have a little brand exposure. But chances are, this will generate at least some traffic and being seen is always better than being not seen.
Start optimizing for the long-tail phrases that people are using to get answers. Answers that you provide with your website and articles. Search queries that contain 3 to 6 words now account for over 54% of all searches! While ranking great for one or two words is great, ranking good for 3 to 6 is now vital also. Get 10 primary and 20 secondary keyword phrases you want to rank on page one for and focus your efforts there. Ranking for 1000 keywords that nobody searches for doesn’t help move traffic to your site.
Don’t Omni channel:
Don’t just focus on Google and the SERPs. Reduce SERP impact on your website traffic by using all of the marketing channels that make sense for your business. Facebook posts, twitter feeds, instagram posts, youtube videos, industry directories, white papers, blog posts, and authoring articles are just a few of the many channels you should be putting your effort into these days. Leave no stone (or channel) unturned!
Google is not the only fish in this ocean of SERP. Now, give me a second before you start laughing. Whole it is true that Google has the lion share of searches, roughly 70% to 80% of the grand total, that still leaves 20% to 30% out there on other search engines like Bing, Ask, DuckDuckGo and more. There are lots more than one search engine out there, Diversify your optimization efforts to include these also. Google doesn’t use meta-tag keywords anymore for example and hasn’t for years but, many of the other search engines still do. Don’t leave them out!
I’m not saying that you should stop optimizing for Google at all, but rather include Bing and the others in your search optimization efforts and plans. Regardless of the strategy that you choose to employ, it’s going to take time. So don’t wait until the majority of your search traffic falls off and you’re not getting enough traffic from other sources to make up for it. Start developing your plan and getting it implemented as soon as you can.
Contact us by 31 March 2020 and you can get 50% off our normal rates!