Five years ago, maintaining a top result on page one of Google was the measuring stick of success in the SEO world. Oh, how the times have changed.
Look at Google’s search engine results page from five years ago. What jumps out at you?
Ads along the right rail were better delineated from the organic rankings.
The top organic listing (Tripadvisor) was 250 pixels down the page.
Assuming the average fold for desktop users is 600 pixels, the first three organic listings were visible without scrolling.
Now, take a look at Google today for the same search.
The top organic listing is 2600 pixels down the page. Definitely not above the fold.
Tripadvisor dropped to number two. It’s only one position spot but the website link is more than 3000 pixels farther down the page.
Keep in mind that what is above the fold in desktop is not necessarily above the fold in mobile. While the fold location has a very wide range, it is centered around three points, corresponding to the three most popular screen resolutions: 600, 1024 x 768 and 1280 x 1024.
Double Down On Google My Business
Here is another startling fact. Did you know 60% of mobile searchers don’t click through to a website? Think about your own search behavior with respect to Google Maps or Google My Business (GMB). How often do you find yourself Googling the name of a business, locating the hours in Maps or on the GMB page, and then moving on to the next thing in your life?
A year ago, you probably scrolled down the page to the organic content links, clicked on a result, and visited the website to find the hours or phone number. By leveraging GMB as a more prominent search feature, those are two clicks you can recapture which your website may no longer receive.
Think Beyond SERP Keyword Position Ranking
For a long time, the gold standard of Google success was SERP keyword position ranking, which was achieved by high-quality SEO on sites that were regularly updated. Traditional SEO position is still, of course important – but again, traditional SEO links are a long way down the page. You should be taking advantage of the organic features Google has incorporated designed to help searchers. If you can capture these features, you will dramatically increase your site’s traffic. These are called SERP features.
Featured snippets. These happen when someone searches an informational query. An example: “Boston oyster bar specials.” That question returns a list of search results – but even more conveniently, the featured snippet shows the information needed very quickly. Never mind swiping; the answer is right there.
Maps. When someone searches “Oyster bar near me?” Google will respond with a map pack of oyster restaurants based on proximity along with other factors that can be optimized. Making sure your store has a GMB management solution increases your chances of showing up on this map.
Paragraph style. A few different types of searches can return paragraph style results. The most common ones are “How to” questions, such as “How do I cook oysters?” By offering this information in a larger text format, Google tries to help the searcher get the necessary information as quickly as possible.
Related questions: The “People also ask” section gives the searcher more opportunity to interact and get info without leaving the SERP. It also pushes down the organic listings.
If you can capture these key snippets, you can dramatically improve your site’s rankings and traffic.
So What Does The Savvy SEO Expert Do?
With more and more information being provided without generating click-throughs, how do you make sure that your website gets the necessary traffic it needs?
Make sure you’re working to acquire those featured snippets. Look for high-quality questions and answers on your site, and make sure they’re keyword focused and well formatted.
Focus on a general theme. Incorporate halo topics. Build content designed to keep people interested.
Position yourself as an authority in your niche and keep your site up to date with new question and answer information regularly.
Adjust your thinking. We’re all used to thinking about search ranking, but there’s so much more involved now in generating high-quality pages that generate rich snippets and other visibility opportunities which may not include a click to the website.
Chris Tabb is the creator of The Local Lighthouse where he leads tech strategy, activation and measurement of customer facing marketing efforts.
Prior to starting The Local Lighthouse, Chris was the lead technologist at Edelman where he oversaw strategy for top-tier clients including Activision, Cisco, Bush Beans, Netflix, Starz, and T Rowe Price. Chris is also recognized in the marketing space for his experience with data orchestration, tech stack alignment, and customer identity resolution.