Just a few years ago SEO was really simple. You had to be in the top 10 or rather in the top 3 for relevant keywords. Then the traffic came and with it the leads, sales or whatever you wished. Today there is no real top 10 anymore. Even if you are at #1 in the organic search results, you might be below the “fold” so that users have to scroll to see your site on the Google search results page aka SERP.
Google has introduced so many changes to most SERPS that you can’t ignore them and go on as if it’s still 2005. You have to change your SEO strategy accordingly.
While many people already have noticed that Universal search is all over the place, and images, video or news results get displayed frequently, many still behave as if SEO was about checking rankings and aiming for #1 in organic search. These 30 Google SERP changes impact your SEO strategy in a way you can’t ignore.
- Ads and universal search push organic results below the fold
- There is opportunity in local search results
- Paid shopping results show above organic results
- There are sometimes more or fewer than 10 results
- Infinite scroll allows users to peruse longer lists of results
- Author avatars get displayed on the left of search snippet
- Bulleted snippets made of list items stand out
- Local results show up even without adding a location
- For location-based SERPs, organic results almost disappear
- Local SERPs may vary significantly
- Huge full-page site links for brands monopolise branded queries
- Brands tend to dominate their own SERPs
- Sidebar menu attracts clicks and competes with the actual results
- Social search annotations show up with favicon sized avatars
- Google+ bar with red notification distracts while searching
- +1 button clicks reorganise your search results significantly
- Google +1 counts appear in search results for everybody
- Public Google+ profile messages show up prominently in SERPs
- Google remembers and adds recent search queries you performed
- Your last visited pages get highlighted by Google
- Google adds your address from Google Profiles to public search results
- Mobile SERPs differ significantly from desktop SERPs
- “Searches related to” draw away attention from first query
- Google instant search results send people away to partial queries
- Google instant previews can lower your CTR and affect conversion rate
- Personalisation is taking over the average SERPs
- Keyword matching domains can now barely be seen
- Google may shorten your URL displayed, hiding “irrelevant parts”
- 5 years from now SERPs could be completely different
- Google can highlight on-site videos in SERPs
So how do we actually deal with these SERP changes? How exactly do they impact your SEO strategy? There are a few common traits you can focus on:
- Relying on ranking reports is less and less useful; other metrics and KPIs have to be taken into account, such as traffic, conversions and ROI.
- Websites have to be more usable and social in nature to stay competitive in SERPs.
- You have to embrace universal search and add other media types than text.
- Local SEO is the only SEO many businesses can go after, while for others it’s a new way of getting additional exposure.
- Like it or not, you have to pay Google “to get your organic ranking back”, whether by ads or shopping search results.
- You need to offer many ways to reach you, both via Google and social media. Organic results are not enough anymore.
- You have to step up your SEO efforts or increase your SEO budget. SEO isn’t simple anymore, if it ever was. Now there are so many things to consider that only full time specialists can deal with it correctly.
Any other recent or significant SERP changes I haven’t mentioned? Any other ideas on how to tackle these massive changes? Please add the in the comment section!
* CC image by SomeDriftwood.