Organic Search Is Changing: Is Your Site Ready?

This is an exciting time for technological breakthroughs in communication and eCommerce. From the debuts of folding phones and a 5G network to increasing role played by the Internet of Things, experts from every field seem to be optimistic about what the future looks like from their particular corner of the tech world.

But the bigger the innovation, the better the chance that it will be disruptive. While there are a number of changes going on in the world of SEO, there is one particular trend that is upsetting people: no matter how good your SEO is right now, it’s going to earn you fewer organic clicks from here on out on.

Organic Search: Still Better, but Harder

The search results that you receive organically–that is, without any type of paid ad–are still typically your strongest leads. The problem is that searchers are clicking on organic results less than ever.

Part of this, of course comes from the natural evolution of searching: we’re better at it than we were 10 years ago. Search–once a novelty–has become an important tool. We know how to find what we’re looking for without clicking every single link on the SERP.

And, too, SERPs offer a lot more than they used to. Featured snippets, instant answers, and knowledge boxes reduce organic click-through rates (CTR). If a user has a simple question, such as wanting to know ticket prices, or how to pronounce a word, those answers are likely to appear on the SERP… which eliminates the need to click through to ANY other sites.

Search engine companies understand that we’re spending less and less time digging through too many websites: we click on the link we want and go from there. So Google needed a way to turn that to their advantage.

At first, this may seem contradictory: after all, search engines are the ones who provide all that extra SERP information. Are they sabotaging their own efforts? Not really, as we’ll see

Google Controls Search

While the motto of Alphabet– Google’s parent company–is “Do the right thing,” that doesn’t inherently have to mean “Do the right thing for our users.” Google is first and foremost a corporation…and the number one job of a corporation is always to sustain the corporation. In order to sustain growth, Google stockholders must see a return on their investment.

We believe that Google cares about customers and about delivering quality answers for searchers. But that doesn’t necessarily mean that searchers are more important to them than shareholders. Searchers are a means to an end: the company is out to make money, and they’ll do what it takes to increase CTR for their advertisers.

The best way for any ad giant to increase short-term revenue is to control the situation so that companies like yours feel the need to pay for ads. How to they do that? By reducing organic reach, in a couple different ways. The first way is all those extra SERP features we mentioned earlier. Not only does that do away with searchers needing to click through to some other site, it also pushes all the OTHER info on the page DOWN … ensuring that the only sites searchers may see are the paid ads.

Plus, Google also has “suggested search” links right there, as well. Those aren’t necessarily linked to paid ads, but they are primarily linked to specific answers…meaning to some extent, Google controls where users go for an answer.

The Future of Organic SEO

So does all this mean SEO is dead? No. But the process continues to get more complex and nuanced. There are no quick fixes, but there are some steps site owners can take.

Don’t Target the Obvious

Be careful of targeting keywords that have a high probability of producing low CTR. Google can answer simple queries like “weather in LOCATION” or “how many liters in a half-gallon.” Searchers won’t need to click through to your site, even if you have a better answer.

Invest in Your Brand Image

Having an amazing product that people search by name not only adds incredible value in your market; it also helps target your search responses. Branded searches are a huge trust signal for SEO, and that can raise your rankings. Connecting your brand to a specific image and audience–then delivering on quality service–will make your SEO all the more potent.

User Experience

According to Adobe, over a third of users will stop engaging with a website if the content and/or layout are unattractive. Things like a fast load time, mobile-friendliness, and expert content are always going to help rankings. Enhancing the user experience also means optimizing for user intent: in other words, anticipating the queries that searchers will use for searching, and answering those questions thoroughly on your site.

Final Thoughts

SEO is more alive than ever, but it’s also more complicated and requires increasingly specialized skills. That can be a good thing for you, however, since not everyone understands this (and even fewer are willing to learn). Now more than ever, you need a resource in the business to help you leverage changes to your advantage as they appear. Contact us today to see how we can help.

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