Wait, you mean it’s not enough to be on page one?
It’s 2018. You already know how important it is that your clients are on page one, preferably at the very top of the organic results. Because of RankBrain, we have to master CTR more than ever before, but we also have to keep ahead of all the new and exciting real estate on the SERP.
That’s right. Organic results are being upstaged by Ads, Carousels, Answer Boxes, “People Also Ask” sections, and more. That being said, if your client’s results don’t show in more places than just the organic results list, they are not likely to get a click.
The above image highlights an Adwords Search ad in the top position, a Featured Snippet and a People Also Ask Box.
Being #1 Isn’t Always Worth It
Sure, being at the top of the organic results is great, but it takes a whole lot to get there, and it may not be the best use of your resources. When it comes to getting a #1 position on Google, links and content are the two most important ranking factors. In order to rank, your client’s site needs hundreds of links from high-ranking sites. However, these factors take a hefty amount of time, not to mention that your client’s site will take a while to gain it’s own domain authority. Added up, ranking #1 is expensive and time consuming, and it doesn’t happen overnight. If you pour all your resources into organic rankings, you’ll be losing time and resources that could be spent focusing on more profitable sections of the SERP.
You’re Up Against the Big Guys
Another problem with relying on organic search results is that for many industries, page one is crowded by directories, national companies, and news articles. Our clients don’t have the time and money to catch up! And there’s more bad news. Fewer people are clicking on organic search results these days. An industry study found that organic CTR is down 37% since 2015, which we can safely assume is due to all of Google’s new features on the SERP.
Covering All Your Bases
If you’ve done a search in the last few months and been surprised to see some interesting new features, you’re not alone. Here’s a quick breakdown of all the possible features that might show.
- Direct Answers: This box shows public-domain facts and does not credit a source.
- Featured Snippets: This is usually the most contextually relevant source and does credit a source. This most commonly appears when a question is asked in the search box.
- Bulleted Lists: Typically rankings or “best of” lists.
- Numbered List: Appears when pulling information from recipes or DIYs.
- Tables: Usually includes prices or rates.
- YouTube videos
- Rich Snippets: Additional lines of context within a result (prices, ratings, etc.)
- Rich Cards: Mobile version of rich Snippets.
- Knowledge Graphs: Shows information about people, places, and organizations.
- Knowledge Panels: Similar to knowledge graphs, but pulls information only from Google My Business listings or Google Maps.
- Local 3 Pack: Shows 3 local businesses in Rich Snippet format below a map with location points.
- People Also Ask: Related questions or queries.
- Image Packs: Shows images relative to queries that are best answered in image format.
- Site Links: Shows various links that fall within one search result.
- Twitter Carousel: Pretty self explanatory – shows 3 relevant Twitter posts at a time.
- Newsbox: Includes any currently trending or breaking news. Google titles this “Top stories”.
- Adwords Top: Shows above organic results.
- Adwords Bottom: Shows below organic results and is usually cheaper.
Which Features Are Relevant to My Client?
Ideally, your client would be in every spot on the SERP, but depending on the search term, there are almost always some features that aren’t relevant. Shoot for all the important places your client can show. Here’s how.
- Google Ads: Show your clients the value of paying for ads! This is extremely important in order to actually show up at the top of the SERP. Today, paid ads and organic search have to work together as one strategy rather than competing with one another.
- Google My Business: If your client has an excellent Google My Business listing (accurate information with multiple reviews and images), they’ll likely show up in the Maps section in the middle of the page. A GMB listing will also make your client eligible for rich snippets and knowledge panels when relevant.
The above image shows an example of a company who is taking advantage of Google Search ads as well as their Google My Business listing – which helps them show up in the local maps pack. By having their brand present in both areas of a Google SERP, they are taking up more of the page’s real estate.
- Organic Results: Although organic is clearly the loser of the most recent Google updates, SEO is still important, so don’t stop optimizing your client’s content and updating their site to make sure they’re all set on the SEO front. Organic search will always be important, and it gives your client a third chance to be seen and clicked if the searcher scrolls past Ads and Maps.
In this screenshot, from the same SERP mentioned above, the company is also on page one organic results. By taking advantage of all three areas of the page (ads, local maps, and organic results) the company is completely covering page one. This brings a higher CTR (click through rate) which can lead to more customers for the business.
Stay Ahead of the SERP
The truth of the matter is that Google will continue to evolve in order to best serve the searcher. We will likely be surprised again in the future when the SERP has new features or the organic search algorithm changes drastically. However, if our clients’ site meet all current SEO standards and their GMB accounts are optimized, they’ll be relevant to the user and likely still in great standing with any new features! Happy optimizing!