Article

Guy Levine
Guy Levine 5 December 2018
Categories Advertising

The Future of Google SEO: What's Next for SERP Features?

Are SERP features bad news for your SEO efforts? Read our blog to find out!

What is a SERP feature?

Well, this all started way back in 2001 with AdWords, when Google started displaying paid ads as part of search results. These days, there are over 16 different SERP features, such as featured snippets, image packs and map results.

Featured snippets have been important to SEO for a while now. If you can gain the featured snippet for a certain search term, Google is essentially saying that your content is an accurate and trustworthy answer to the query. Therefore, it displays a teaser of your on-site content, which users must click on to see the rest. However, today’s SERP features are much more comprehensive in answering search queries. Let me explain:

If you search for the weather in your local area, you’re going to see something like this:

Weather-image.jpg

As a user, this is great! No need to scroll through the results and click through to a site; a whole weekly forecast is right there in front of you. Efficient and effective. For businesses who rely on organic traffic to convert on-site however, this isn’t so great…

For mobile users, this is even more prevalent:

Feburary 2016 February 2018
  Organic Paid No Clicks Organic Paid No Clicks
Desktop 65.56% 2.50% 34.44% 65.72% 3.82% 34.28%
Mobile 58.43% 1.83% 41.57% 38.87% 3.12% 61.03%

SparkToro data - (sums are greater than 100% as searchers can click multiple results per query)

Over the past two years, search queries on mobile have seen a 20% drop in organic clicks and a 20% rise in no clicks (search queries that result in no traffic to a particular page), while on desktop over the same period, the stats have remained fairly steady.

So, why is this? Let’s examine the SERP of the same queries on both platforms:

thor.jpg

mobile-google.jpg

These are the SERP results for ‘thor’ on both desktop and mobile. On mobile, you have to scroll through at least three pages of overviews, snippets and carousels before you get to the #1 ranking search result.

But this is happening with almost all types of search query. For example, sports:

premier-league.jpg

It’s also the case for almost any type of calculation:

pounds-to-euros.jpg

So Google, what gives?

Back when the search engine landscape was much more competitive, content creators could just noindex google bots and favour the other search engines to give them an advantage. But these days, Google holds a 92.74% market share, so it’s basically free to do whatever it feels like.

In fact, back in 2013, Google ran an experiment where it swapped its own search results with Bing’s, but put kept Google’s logo on the Bing results and vice versa. Guess which results users preferred? That’s right, the ones with Google’s logo on… that is power.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. Surprisingly, voice search provides a silver lining. In 2016, Google said that 20% of mobile queries were voice searches. By 2020, it is estimated that that number will rise to 50%.

Voice searches are usually questions, for example: “Where’s my nearest…”, “What is the best…” etc, which means they utilise long-tail keywords. Long-tail keywords have typically lower search volume, as they are more fixated on a particular query. Because of this, users have a higher intent to purchase, as they’re searching for something specific. By their nature, long-tail keywords are harder to answer with SERP features, so optimising for the growing number of voice searches is certainly something to consider when planning out content marketing strategies, especially for mobile.

What does this mean for the Future of SEO?

Search these days is all about usability and these growing numbers of SERP feature are, admittedly, very quick, efficient and user-friendly. But what does it mean for sites who depend on traffic to convert on-site? Well, if this is the way search is going, we need to be realistic.

Now is the time to be investing in SEO and optimising on-site content for on-SERP SEO; if Google is going to bias maps, GMB listings, YouTube search results, snippets etc., we need to be making sure content is optimised for these listings. Organic traffic still outweighs paid results, but in a world where organic results are being pushed further down the SERP, it’s more important than ever to rank as highly as possible for your key terms.

The harder a tactic becomes, the more of a competitive advantage it is.

Please login or register to add a comment.

Contribute Now!

Loving our articles? Do you have an insightful post that you want to shout about? Well, you've come to the right place! We are always looking for fresh Doughnuts to be a part of our community.

Popular Articles

See all
7 reasons why social media marketing is important for your business

7 reasons why social media marketing is important for your business

Social media is quickly becoming one of the most important aspects of digital marketing, which provides incredible benefits that help reach millions of customers worldwide. And if you are not applying this profitable...

Sharron Nelson
Sharron Nelson 6 February 2018
Read more
Digital Marketing Vs. Traditional Marketing: Which One Is Better?

Digital Marketing Vs. Traditional Marketing: Which One Is Better?

What's the difference between digital marketing and traditional marketing, and why does it matter? The answers may surprise you.

Julie Cave
Julie Cave 14 July 2016
Read more
Top 10 B2B Platforms to Help your Business Grow Worldwide

Top 10 B2B Platforms to Help your Business Grow Worldwide

Although the trend of a Business to Business portal is not new but the evolution of technology has indeed changed the way they function. Additional digital trading features and branding has taken the place of...

Salman Sharif
Salman Sharif 7 July 2017
Read more
What Marketing Content Do Different Age Groups like to Consume?

What Marketing Content Do Different Age Groups like to Consume?

Today marketers have a wide choice of different content types to create; from video to blogs, from memes to whitepapers. But which types of content are most suitable for different age groups?

Lisa Curry
Lisa Curry 21 October 2016
Read more
Collection Of The Best Email Testing Tools Online

Collection Of The Best Email Testing Tools Online

Don’t be afraid of email testing. There are many free or freemium tools online that can help you with testing your SPAM score, deliverability and even the rendering of your email. We feature 30 email testing tools in...

Roland Pokornyik
Roland Pokornyik 31 October 2016
Read more