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SEO strategies for the latest search trends

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The way people use and interact with search engines is changing. This means a different approach is required when doing SEO. In this posts I’ll explain what’s happening and try to help you to make your SEO succesful in 2018 and beyond.

First of all, there is positive news for SEOs. The number of searches via Google is still growing and organic search results still receive a much larger share of clicks than ads. The graph below shows that the average CTR on ads is 3.82% compared to 65.72% on organic results.

Organic CTR vs. Paid CTR on Google

Yet there are 2 trends that I expect to have a massive impact on SEO and digital marketing in general.

Trend 1: No click searches

If you’ve done your math quickly you might have noticed that 3.82% and 65.72% do not equal 100%. This is because no less than 34.28% of searches on desktop do not lead to a click! (3.82% + 65.72% + 34.24% isn’t 100% either, but users can click on multiple results after a single search.)

No click searches
When it comes to mobile searches the results even more shocking. Advertisements receive 3.12% of all clicks on the SERP and organic results get a 38.97% share. On mobile 61.03% of all searches do not lead to a click! Richer search results such as, knowledge graphs, images packs, featured snippets and other SERP features create less need for the user to click through to a website.

Trend 2: The rise of voice search

Voice search is growing fast. Very fast. One out of 6 American adults owns a voice activated smart speaker, such as a Google Home or Amazon Echo (NPR and Edison Research). The adoption of these devices goes faster than that of the smartphone and the tablet.

Expectations are that in 2020 30% of all searches will be carried out on a device without a screen. In that same year, half (!) of all searches will be performed via voice. (comScore).

Although these statistics and forecasts are mainly based on the American market, I expect to see similar numbers in Europe and other parts of the world within a short time as well. Depending on the market you operate in you might have a little more time to adapt, but it won’t be much.

So what do you have to do?

You really don’t have to start developing an app for Google Assistant or Amazon’s Alexa in order to survive. But you might have to start thinking about your SEO differently.

4 SEO strategies to start applying today

I’ll try to describe a few SEO strategies and tactics you can use to make your SEO efforts future proof.

1. Optimise for intentions instead of keywords

Stop optimising your content for a specific keyword or even a keyword variant. Instead try to think about the intention of the user. Which intentions or questions do users have that might visit your page? And what kind of content is needed to offer the best answer?

Users start using different queries when they search via voice while the intention stays the same. Let’s say you want to know if any rain is expected tonight. You’d probably type a query like ‘weather + your location’. On a voice activiated device you’d maybe ask ‘Hey Google, will it rain tonight?’

Very different query. Same intention.

2. Use structured data

Structured data helps search engines to better understand content on a page. Do you have a website with recipes, for example? Then you can use markup to indicate things like preparation time, recipe yield, show a picture of the dish, etc. This data can be used by search engines to enrich your result on the SERP, increasing your chances on a click.

Structured data for recipes

Besides this it helps search engines to better understand what intentions a page offers an answer. For example, if you have a page with a recipe for a buddha bowl and provide it with recipe markup, then Google better understands that this page contains a recipe and is not about the bowl in which this dish is traditionally served.

3. Optimize for position zero

Ranking at position 1 is no longer the best possible result. With an increasing number of search queries Google shows a so-called featured snippet box above the first traditional search result.

Although the answer is often already given in the search result, featured snippets usually have a higher CTR than traditional search results.

Position zero

How to optimise for postion zero?

Analyse for which relevant queries that show such a featured snippet box you already rank on the first page. Think carefully about the intentions of users with these or similar searches and make sure your page gives the best possible answer and provides the most relevant information. If possible, use structured data.

4. Spread your chances

In some cases it is simply not feasible or efficient to get your own site ranking well. For example, when there are a number of sites on the top spots of the SERP  with a lot more authority. Outranking these sites or even being shown as a featured snippet is often difficult.

A more effective approach is sometimes to create a listing or profile on these sites or try to get mentioned. This way you use the higher rankings of these sites to create more visibility for your own business. This approach is also called barnacle SEO. Here are some examples of barnacle SEO:

  • Make sure all your business locations are on Google Maps and include all  information your potential customer might be looking for (hours / website / phone)
  • Post relevant images on platforms like Pinterest and Instagram
  • Pay attention to your listing on sites like Tripadvisor and Untappd
  • Make sure your video’s are discoverable on YouTube
  • Try to get mentioned in relevant articles about your product / service.

Tracking results

Google Search Console is getting a lot better at providing useful insights in where and how your site is shown. You can track on how many and on which pages Google recognised structured data and how often your site appeared as rich result. In addition, you can use tools like Moz to track your rankings and see if your site appears in SERP features.


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