A weekly Google Hangout dedicated to discussing content marketing, search marketing, SEO and more.
Topic: Universal Search: What’s influencing where you appear in search engine results
Besides the issues that local and mobile present for serving up relevant search results, there are lots of other things popping up that can affect your true rank.
Erin Robbins, President at GinzaMetrics
Karen Scates, Manager PR & Marketing GinzaMetrics
FULL VIDEO TRANSCRIPT
Karen: Welcome to this week’s edition of FOUND Friday, a weekly show where we discuss topics of interest for search and content marketers. You can now view FOUND Friday episodes on GinzaMetrics YouTube channel and listen to the podcast on our SoundCloud account. I’m Karen.
Erin: And I’m Erin.
Karen: Today we’re talking about all the things that are influencing your content and where your content appears in organic search results and what you can do about it. We’re also going to be talking about a new feature, Universal Search, and how it’s helping our users cope with the growing real estate issues in search results.
Let’s start by talking about some of the challenges marketers and SEOs are facing when they’re tracking the findability of their content.
Erin: Beyond the issues that everybody has been talking about with local and mobile serving up relevant search results, there are tons of other things that are popping up with regards to where you’re ranking in with search engine results that can affect what we’ll call your true rank.
Picture this: you are checking your rank tracking tool and it tells you that you’re ranking number one for some sort of high search volume keywords and you think that you’re golden, right? But you go back and then double-check and what you realize is you’re not actually receiving a traffic that you think you should be associated with these awesome rankings, so kind of what gives. While you may be ranking number one in terms of organic results, there also may be lots of other things on the page that are pulling people’s attention and ultimately traffic away from you. This can be things like image results including shopping options, videos, ads, local pack data, knowledge panel, a variety of things that can be added into what people are seeing when they search for something.
To answer this challenge, that’s what you mentioned with the new feature with Universal Search. It gives users a way to figure out what else is appearing on the page alongside targeted keywords and paired content so that you can figure out what your real rank is in the space in terms of where you are on the page and what other things people might be seeing.
Karen: Let’s talk a little more about that real rank. Let’s talk about the current condition of Google search engine results pages or SERPs as we usually refer to them. Between the paid content, local pack with map results, image results, and videos, organic rankings may not mean what they used to for a lot of marketers. Can you tell us how the new Universal Search feature in the GinzaMetrics platform is addressing that?
Erin: Yeah. With SERPs, obviously, search engine result pages have really changed over the course of time as the general way that search engines work, how the algorithm is structured, what’s served up, when and where. Traditionally what it was was a lot of just organic listing of content, mostly web pages, blogs, etc. Over time it started to include paid results, a few ads here and there. Now it’s really included to expand to include a variety of things that search engines think are relevant based on what you’re looking for and it’s really aimed at providing a more relevant and contextual experience for the user but it also makes performing well a little bit more complicated for folks.
One of the examples I always give is the running shoes example. Traditionally if you went in and typed “running shoes,” what it was going to give you was maybe something like feet sports, Nike, Adidas, whatever running shoe-related things. But now what it’s going to do is, in addition to running shoes and just content related to running shoes or articles about the best running shoes from Runner’s World magazine, it’s going to give you stuff like shopping results up at the top for running shoes, it’s going to give you local map results for where you can buy running shoes in your area. It’s going to then provide you below that with actual running shoes results. So while you may be in the top three search results, what’s going to happen is you may actually be below the fold in some cases.
The new Universal Search tool from Ginza is going to provide context around what else is appearing on the page. What you can do is you can actually filter out by stuff like ads on top, ads on side panel or bottom, knowledge panel, image results, shopping of videos, that kind of thing. Then in addition to being able to look at that, it’s also going to see all the things. It’s also going to show you with icons everything that’s on the page so you’ll be able to see is there a combination of ads on top, knowledge panel, shopping, local pack, all these things – how crowded is the space for this keyword?
That’s really what we’re talking about. You’re looking for a keyword and it’s telling you that when you’re searching for this keyword within what content you have ranking, how noisy is this current SERP? That can really help you understand how valuable that real estate and how valuable it may be for you to try to continue to rank in that position for that specific keyword.
Karen: Let’s say you have mix of paid and organic marketing strategies happening all at once, what are some problems you could be encountering with the new way Google is ordering content on the page?
Erin: Oh man. There are a few issues going on with this and I’ll mention two briefly. The first is that you’ll have ads and content and other content served above your organic results and therefore in terms of SEO value, you’re making all these efforts and it’s not paying off the same dividends because what you thought was ranked number one or all the work that you put in to be there has actually pushed you further down the page. You’ve got ads in, ads there, and results pages and there are a lot of things going on.
The second is you could actually be cannibalizing your own results. So when you have both paid and organic efforts for a single keyword or group of keywords, you could be paying or working toward appearing at the top of the same page twice. For example, if you’re Starbucks and you’re already ranking number one for the word “coffee” which is a really highly trafficked keyword, really high search volume keyword, and also really expensive to try to pay for and you also appear number one in the local pack results for like coffee shops in somebody’s area and number one in organic results for coffee information, do you really want to pay to do all of those things? Essentially what you could be doing is you could flood out all of the competition with that or you can decide if there’s something that may be more beneficial than the other.
Karen: If you’re in that sort of a scenario, what options might you have?
Erin: The flooding everybody out thing is an option. You can pay to be at the top in paid results. You can keep spending money to stay relevant in the local pack, keep working really hard at SEO, and you can try to drown out everyone else like when they get to the page for coffee, all they see is Starbucks all the time.
Karen: It happens anyways.
Erin: Right. You can also use an analysis in terms of how your content is ranking organically and in local pack results and in other elements and decide if you’re best served doing paid search and advertising for your current thing or mix it up. You may decide that what’s better to do is to focus search on long-tail keywords and run ads on the higher search volume things which is going to be more expensive because high search volume keyword is typically more expensive. Or you may decide to do the opposite which is run the ads on the lower search volume lower cost long-tail keywords and not really focus as much SEO value there and continue running your SEO for the harder to rank for high search volume keywords.
There are a lot of other ways you can deal with the scenario and I know one of the things we’re going to be talking about is other things you could be considering to deal with these elements on the page. A lot of this comes down to being involved in other marketing channels that Google and search engines find relevant to add in information because there’s image results and video results that are also being complied now, so ensuring that if that’s something that your audience is looking for, and something that you have relevant information to talk about that maybe you consider participating there because what you might be able to do is to get involved in content that’s on the page in a different way. That’s obviously really important and kinds of things that marketers need to be really concerned about.
Still I want to reemphasize obviously local, obviously mobile. When we’re talking about local stuff, there’s so much coming out, there’s so much going on, Google is serving up so many local-related results that if you’re not tracking your keywords in both the national and local level and if you’re not really understanding how that works for both B2C and in a lot of cases B2B – and we do have shows on this so I’m not going to spend a lot of time talking about it now but we even talked about just the fact that you can optimize your content even on a B2B perspective from that local feel is that people in the northeast may describe things differently than people in the southwest and you can optimize your content to be more appropriate there. You can always find a way to make something a little bit more relevant to your audience.
I don’t care who you are, mobile matters whether it’s tablet, whether it’s phone, whatever. Your stuff needs to be findable at the very least. Not necessarily everything your site needs to be able to be consumed on a smaller screen but the vast majority of things need to at least be findable.
Karen: You know the saying, “If you can’t beat them, join them.” What kinds of things should marketers do to get to the top of the page besides optimized or organic search results?
Erin: It’s like what I was saying. You really need to be focused on local and mobile. You really need to be looking at various types of content, go beyond just taking your existing content and saying, “How can I SEO this stuff that already exist?” and think about what is really actually relevant to your audience and what’s showing up right now?
One of the things that’s really cool about this Universal Search situation is that for keywords that you’re tracking, you need to be able to look and see for the keyword that you’re tracking what is on that page right now. Go to the page and look and see what all is showing up there right now and can you participate in any of that you know relevant way.
Karen: And it’s still important to produce relevant, engaging content even if you can’t rank where people can see without scrolling, right?
Erin: Yeah. Because I mean at the end of the day relevant content will be rewarded by [11:28 inaudible] and by search engines. It needs to be relevant at the content and keyword level, at the page structure and crawlability levels. So if you’re not getting where you think you should be with your search results, I suggest doing a site and content audit to see what all do you have. Are you cannibalizing your own content? Are you staying on target with what people are actually consuming when they’re looking for the things that you’re looking at? The other thing that we talk about a lot too is, are you even targeting the right keywords? Are people in your industry and in your market describing things or searching the way that you think that they’re searching?
One of the best ways to look at that is understand search, understand how social plays a role in that. How are people talking about things natively beyond social? How are people discussing them with regards to your industry? Keyword Discovery is really a good tool for figuring out for your specific industry what types of keywords and terms are people looking for and how do they talk about it without any prompting from you, because then what you can do is you can actually create content that mirrors how people are already natively searching and discussing on their own.
Because there are so many different types of content, I really feel like we’re not out of ideas. I think that one of the things I hear about really frequently is a pain point from both in-house and agency marketers is somebody will get like a wild hair idea like, “Oh, I saw so-and-so had videos. I just want some videos. Just make some videos.” Without thinking what purpose do these really serve? Who are they going to be [13:04 inaudible] at? What’s somebody going to do with these videos? Does anybody even want videos like this?
A lot of times what happens is if something really takes off and then what you get is different industries [13:16 inaudible] onto this marketing idea or this new marketing channel without real consideration as to how it’s fixing the mix and then people abandon the things that customers actually want, maybe for your industry people really do want traditional whitepapers or something that’s [13:31 inaudible] or maybe people just really want that kind of content. There’s nothing wrong with that because it’s what works. It doesn’t matter that it’s not the shiny, new thing. Sometimes the shiny new thing is just shiny and just new. It doesn’t necessarily create conversions.
We talked on previous episodes about examining the medium, method, message and also the market which is your audience and examine those things at both the full level as well as the local level, you can figure out what content to create for whom, how it’s going to be relevant and the right platforms and ways to share it. That’s kind of an important aspect.
I think the last thing that’s kind of an important with Universal Search is – we’re not going to dive into it today – but what you really want to get is a complete picture of what your space looks like from an audience and content perspective but also what’s going on in competitive areas. So we’re going to talk about some competitor elements in the next few weeks that really play into how to understand in addition to Universal Search telling you what elements are on the page, looking at your competitor how they’re creating some of those other elements that are beating you, and examining how you can actually amp up your own efforts to beat them. That’s what we’re going to move toward over the next few weeks.
Karen: I want to go back to what you’re saying about the shiny, new thing. I just read something about “You should be using Instagram. You should be using all these different things for SnapChat and all these things for business site.” Yes, if that’s where your audience is, you should be using the channels where your audience is. But the shiny, new thing isn’t always, always the best way to go.
I also want to remind people that we have several FOUND Fridays about medium, method, and message and some more materials on our Academy page, so you can go back and look at that too. And we’ll be talking further about competitors and competitor search. That’ll be in the next couple of weeks.
That’s all the time we have for today. Thanks for joining us. You can continue the conversation on Twitter at #FOUNDFriday or e-mail your questions to me, firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks a lot, Erin.
Erin: Thanks, Karen.