Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) is a tricky subject with lots of different opinions. What everybody can agree on is that you need to get your website found when your ideal customers are searching for answers and solutions related to the products and services that you sell. Here we’ll summarise the research created by HubSpot, the world leader at Inbound Marketing, based on their own experience with SEO and how Google has changed.
Google changed our world and it keeps doing so every day. Being left behind is something each of us fears. Automotive businesses have to evolve and reshape their internet presence regularly. We all share a common struggle - staying relevant in the sea of information Google is offering. Without research that's an impossible task. Even the world’s leading Inbound marketing company, HubSpot, has to evolve. HubSpot’s blog had been growing for years, reaching up to 4.5 million monthly visits, until something stopped it, pushing it into a decline. There had to be an explanation, and HubSpot found it - Google changed the rules once again.
Snippets Changed the Game
Back in the day, when you were searching for something on Google, ten blue links would appear on SERP (search engine results page) one after another.
Now? SERP looks completely different, and we can assure you, those looks are not for the design alone.
Once, the first link which appeared on SERP would get around 33% of the views, second one around 18% while the rest would get 11% or under. Using an example of 100 viewers, that would mean: #1 gets 33 clicks, #2 would get 18, 11 would go to #3 and the rest to #4 and the rest. Now, that ratio has changed completely.
Have you noticed there are other pages, above the usually displayed "ten blue links"?
Those are featured snippets. They are taking a "piece of cake" and an addition of snippets to SERP ratio used as an example above, changes it completely as the increased number of clicks on that go to the featured snippets, which decreases the clicks the rest of the result page gets.
Let's use 100 clicks as in the earlier example - around 50 will go to the featured snippets, 20 to the #1, 10 to #2 and the rest to #3 and beneath. So instead of 33 clicks, number one is now getting 20. These changes become even harsher for those beneath the #1.
Snippets are Decreasing Your Website Visitors!
And it’s the truth! Here are several clear examples of how your page might get overwhelmed by featured snippets:
1. How to Make a Chart or Graph in Excel: 38% decrease in visits from 2016 to 2017
2. 16 of the Best Job Interview Questions to Ask Candidates: 35% decrease in visits from 2016 to 2017
3. 15 Hidden Instagram Hacks and Features: 24% decrease in visits from 2016 to 2017
The percentage of clicks featured snippets taken away from HubSpot are not insignificant, on the contrary, they are large.
Now, let's add another part of the search page to the picture: Ads and "People Also Asked", which would increase the number of pages and answers one could find before reaching HubSpot, without the change in their rank.
Google Became Smarter
This is another "hidden" detail behind the drop in the viewership you are getting.
What you have to type into the search box had changed drastically over the years. Google offers specific results for the differently phrased search requests. Instead of typing "restaurants Boston" like people did in 2012, now, you could simply write "where should I eat tonight?" and get the same, if not the better answer.
The engine behind Google has improved and understands the intent you put behind each search.
Here you can see how Google's search engine had evolved, offering different answers to three very similar search phrases:
This will affect traffic your website gets, greatly!
Even if your website page or post is still holding #1 position for the search phrase "interview questions" it might be losing clicks to the differently phrased requests, example: "interview questions for the boss," "funny interview questions" and so on.
How to Create the Best PowerPoint Presentations, with Examples: 60% decrease in visits from 2016 to 2017
These stats are showing us HubSpot is holding #1 position for both "powerpoint presentation example" and "presentation example." That's definitely not something to be worried about, but as soon as you change the phrase in the search box, the results begin looking drastically different.
How to Change How You Attract Your Ideal Customers
Reports claim that the number of featured snippets had grown 328% since summer 2015. In addition to this, almost half of the searches receive no clicks at all because the direct answers are now appearing directly on the SERP. "SEO is getting harder than ever before," as Matt Barby, HubSpot’s resident SEO, likes to point out.
There are several options HubSpot use to fight the decline in viewership caused by the changes in search.
1. Capture the snippet
Optimise existing posts that are currently not capturing the featured snippet and write net new posts with the snippet (and other search features) in mind.
2. Find the green space
Snippets are not going to stop eating away at traffic, despite best efforts. Even with optimisation, you won’t gain back all the traffic you’re losing. So you’ll work to identify gaps in topics so that you can expand and create clusters around new topic areas.
3. Go for the longer long tail
Instead of optimising one comprehensive post for a bunch of smaller long tail keywords, you’ll start writing shorter, more specific posts for all the precise variants a keyword might have. These are the "cluster" posts that are essential to catapulting one "pillar" piece of content to that coveted #1 position for the most competitive terms – and capturing all that longtail traffic simultaneously.
That's how HubSpot, the world’s leading Inbound Marketing company, plan to turn a decrease into an increase!
Tell us your experiences and tactics for attracting your ideal customers that use Google to research and find solutions to their needs. Your opinions are always welcomed!
About The Tree Group
We combine our industry experience with Inbound Sales and Marketing and HubSpot to give you a competitive advantage and so you know the ROI from your sales, marketing, and website. We strive for targets, measure results, and help you continuously improve over time.
To learn more about Search Engine Optimisation and SEO start with our article on Website Design for Automotive.
You can find previous posts in our series on website design on our blog, at iTunes and Soundcloud, or on YouTube.