Search Trends Fluctuations Due to COVID-19 & How to Respond

The last few weeks have impacted all of our lives in many unprecedented ways. Yes, I’m talking about the Coronavirus pandemic and how it has effectively changed how people and businesses function. The long-term effects of this development still remain to be seen, however, current trend changes cannot be ignored.

Drastic changes have taken place in how we live and work. More and more companies have eased into allowing their employees to work from home. Some have even sent their entire workforce back home indefinitely until the pandemic subsides. They have outright given unpaid leaves. But on the other hand, many small and struggling businesses have closed down.

Similarly, digital trends have also shifted. Most noticeably, internet search trends. And if you’re a digital marketer like me, you’ll see that there’s an actionable opportunity during every trend shift.

In this article, we will provide insights into SEO changing patterns, search engine trends, trending online searches. In addition, we will provide recommendations about how digital marketers and businesses can respond to these changes.

Visits to retail stores plunge massively amid COVID-19

I feel this is a very relevant statistic to start off with. A lot of new digital trends have sprung up due to a severe limitation on physical store visits and retail stores.

As people become more and more aware of the dangers of spreading coronavirus, their visits to most retail stores have plummetted.

The impact of social distancing is being felt heavily by luxury, retail stores as people are only inclined to buy basic necessities only for now. For some time now, advertisers have been using Google Ads to understand the impact of their online advertising using store visit conversions. Advertisers in the U.S. began noticing the change early February. And by March they began collecting data which showed visits to the store were declining rapidly. Until the last week of March when virtually no unnecessary visits to the stores were recorded. A fall of 90% is seen in March compared to February as shown in the graph below.

Google trends

Source: https://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2020/03/23/covid-19-business-trends

How should you respond?

Business can utilize the following strategies to salvage market share and sales.

  1. Design an attractive, user-friendly website for your business
  2. Get your business on Google My Business
  3. Strive to find ways to keep your customers engaged online – content marketing is a great idea!
  4. Acquire your products online using Google Merchant Center
  5. Advertise and promote your business online

New search trends during the COVID-19 crisis

With the unforeseeable rise of coronavirus spreading in all parts of the world, the spread of virus news has also exponentially risen. Terms like coronavirus and COVID-19 have inevitably been the highest searched terms in the last month and continue to be so. Similarly, other terms like “tax preparation” and “travel bookings” have also become rampant in online searches. You can use Google and see the most frequently searched queries. Some of them include:

And the trends for the following week show the following:

 

Marie Haynes started a trend on her Twitter account, asking SEOs if they have seen changes in organic search traffic. About 60% said they saw a decline, almost 16% reported a rise in traffic while 14% reported no observable change by mid-march 2020.

 

How should you respond?

Digital marketers and SEOs can respond in the following ways:

  1. Be on a lookout for new keywords
  2. Revisit your search term report daily
  3. Follow trending searches for COVID-19

 

Mobile search traffic declines in March

While most people are staying indoors practising social distancing, the percentage of mobile searches has gone down as compared to previous months.

Even though overall search traffic has declined across devices in the United States, mobile search traffic has declined more than desktops and laptops. Maybe settling down at home for a long period of time makes people more comfortable in using larger devices.

The following image shows Google search ads traffic from the last week of February across the three aforementioned platforms.

Since Monday, March 16, mobile traffic has consistently been down an average of 24% from the last week of February. Tablet traffic is similarly suffering from a 19% drop in the same time period. Desktop traffic is steadier, showing an 18% decline during the week and only a 7% decline on the weekends.

This decline is largely due to a lack of commuting back and forth from work, as well as no food and perishable food item deliveries being made.

This reaction of search trends is quite similar to the falling stock market trends.

How should you respond?

Advertisers and PPC experts can do the following:

  1. Revisit bid adjustments on your device
  2. Consider smart biding

The growing scope of cross-network

More people are working from home and staying off the roads and office places. They are spending less time searching for services such as shopping, travelling, movies, entertainment, etc. However, a rising trend has been observed in a few other areas. Vodafone reported it has seen a 50% rise in internet usage since the outbreak of the pandemic, COVID-19. This means that you can still reach your potential customers but you have to change your marketing strategies with changing trends.

Simply put, you should try to reach your target audience by targeting a variety of new search terms that have become popular.

 

How should you respond?

Marketers can take advantage of this by doing the following:

  1. Find your target audience and customers on other networks
  2. Do so using all available advertising tools
  3. ALWAYS include Google Search Partners
  4. Revamp your old ads by adding sight and sound. (Gifs and videos are now viable ad options)

Link building to promote your business

Search engines primarily use links to discover new pages on the internet. Similarly, links are also used to determine where a page should rank in search results.

Obviously, not all marketers rely on paid advertising to increase digital visibility. However, ranking a  page naturally takes time; but this process can be sped up by securing premium link placements.

High-quality links are more vital than ever before. Especially if you have a new page and you need traffic on it fast.

Take a look at a page from our website. We wanted to rank this page for the keywords “Real Estate SEO”.

Link: https://www.linkbuildinghq.com/real-estate-seo-ultimate-guide

With just a couple of high-quality links, we were able to jump from “page 2” all the way to the very top of the SERPs; occupying the coveted “featured snippet” position.

With COVID-19 causing all sorts of trend changes around the digital realm, building high-quality links is a surefire way to ensure that your website ranks faster and higher.

Link Building Results

Once you begin receiving links directed to your website/page, you should begin to link out more. Become a part of the community that is yours and promote your brand image. Linking out more also has added benefits like:

. Higher traffic

. Positive contribution to brand marketing

. Higher page rank

. More inbound marketing

. Higher SERP ratings

A detailed explanation of link building can be found here.

LinkBuilding HQ – Official Sponsor At Engage Marketing Conference 2020

[UPDATE: This event has been postponed to Aug 6 – Aug 7. For more details, visit the official event page.]   

NEWS: We are pleased to announce that Link Building HQ is an official program sponsor at the Engage Marketing Conference, which will be held in Portland, OR from March 12- 13, 2020.

Engage Marketing Conference is a two-day digital marketing conference featuring informative learning programs and panel sessions led by industry experts, designed to provide the latest insights into new strategies and technological advancements in digital marketing, social media, content, UX/design, creative, advertising, SEO, paid media, and more!

Who’s Going To Be There?

Not only will you have an opportunity to mingle with the C-suite team of LinkBuilding HQ, you will also hear from top speakers from Uber, Walmart, 3Q Digital, Cisco, CBS Interactive, The Walt Disney Company, Optmyzr and more.

Engage 2020 Speakers
Here are some of the top speakers at Engage 2020. Click here to view the full list of speakers and read their profiles.

 

Why You Should Attend

Engage is one of the pre-eminent annual marketing conferences in the United States, attracting the best minds in the industry. There’s simply no substitute for the kinds of face-to-face, one-on-one interactions that are made possible by the guests and speakers at the Engage Marketing Conference.

The speakers bring a high-level of expertise and decades of experience for attendees, while the educational tracks at Engage are valuable for everyone, from in-house SEOs to digital marketing agencies and business owners looking to grow revenue.

Don’t Miss Out!

As digital marketing becomes more competitive, those who are going the extra mile today will be best positioned to become the industry leaders of tomorrow. Invest in yourself, learn more about digital marketing and get a chance to connect with some of the most exciting names in the digital marketing industry. Discover Engage 2020 for yourself.

And, hey, if you’re interested in learning how LinkBuilding HQ can help you get high-quality links to boost your website, then read more about us here. We have perfected the art of scalable outreaching to help businesses and agencies earn high-DA links, regardless of order size.

Real Estate SEO: The Ultimate Guide + Examples, Keywords & Templates

Are you a realtor looking to rank your real estate website on the first page of Google? Or maybe you’re an SEO agency trying to get some traction for your real estate client. If that’s the case, then this article is for you.

Some real estate SEO guides are too simple and amateurish to be of any help. Others are too long and complex. This guide, however, is perfect for those who have a basic to intermediate understanding of SEO and want to learn exactly how they can optimize their real estate website. Follow our tips to rank your way to the top and generate hundreds, if not thousands, of leads without actively spending money.

In this article, we’ll show you:

  • How to develop a 360 strategy for effective real estate SEO.
  • The 3 real estate SEO pillars you need to know to rank your website.
  • An easy to follow guide (and checklist) which shows you how to master real estate SEO.

 

What is Real Estate SEO?

Simply put, real estate SEO allows you to show up on search engines whenever someone is searching online for a property. According to research, in 2019, 50% of homeowners found their desired properties via online sources.

Why Is It Important?

Lead generation and SEO for real estate is a tricky game. This isn’t some run-of-the-mill product that’ll retail for $10-$30. You can expect your customers to do extensive research online before they even visit a property. And with the digital boom, marketers have explored all online avenues, making the average cost per lead $40 for moderate real estate markets to $60 for slow real estate markets. That’s why paid marketing for real estate lead generation might not be a viable option for all real estate businesses.

The phenomenal spread of smart devices, coupled with internet access virtually everywhere, means that users are searching on the go. Online marketing for real estate companies is becoming increasingly competitive, and SEO – especially local SEO – has become mission critical.

Now, why did we just mention SEO?

  • Paid marketing will effectively target only those in the ‘purchase’ stage.
    With leads costing upwards of $30, no paid marketer is going to waste precious $$$ “educating” customers or nurture a user still in the awareness stage. Organic marketing or SEO is better in this regard because it automatically creates a funnel passing users from “awareness” to “consideration” and finally to “decision”. That’s because real estate SEO relies heavily on content marketing and high-ranking real estate companies will be those who provide the most complete information.

 

  • Organic marketing is long-term and will lead to auto-pilot leads.
    Paid marketing or pay-per-click advertising will get leads straight to your digital doorstep, but the moment you stop spending, the leads stop and you’re back to square one. On the other hand, SEO ranks up your profile over time and once you put in the time and effort to rank on a high-value real estate keyword, then you will not lose your position unless another real estate business puts in a greater effort to outrank you.

Look at Zillow for example:

This online real estate giant spends quite a bit on paid marketing. Case in point: all their ads for the keywords buy apartments in Seattle:

However, despite their impressive ad spend, they are also ranking #1 organically for the same search query:

image showing the organic ranking of Zillow

Now that we have established the importance of search engine optimization in real estate, let’s have a look at some strategies and tips you can follow to ensure that your real estate listings rank among the top spots for your desired keywords.

Here Are 14 Tips to Help You Optimize for Real Estate SEO:

  1. Claim your Google My Business listing.
  2. Use our winning formula to develop your real estate SEO keywords.
  3. Create localized, city-specific, content.
  4. Develop a mobile-first website.
  5. Optimize your HTML tags and descriptions.
  6. Upgrade to HTTPS.
  7. Implement schema markup.
  8. Add useful tools to your site.
  9. Optimize for image SEO.
  10. Fix broken links.
  11. List your properties on major platforms.
  12. Write guest blogs.
  13. Get local citations.
  14. Earn online reviews.

 

Let’s break down these 14 tips into three major categories, Local SEO, On-page optimization, Off-page optimization, and dive right in!

Local SEO

How many times have you searched something on your phone and you chose the search result nearest to you?

Well, that usually happens with physical businesses or a result that’s highly dependent on location. Those top 3-4 results have mastered local SEO that allows them to rank in Google’s knowledge box with valuable details that are not given to other lower-ranking results.

We are talking about the highly coveted “Google 3-Pack.” The top 3 location-based results for a particular search query.

This list used to consist of 7 results, but since 2015, Google has changed it to 3 results. Hence, the competition has gotten significantly harder and more than half of the businesses that used to rank in “7-packs” don’t have a place in the “3-pack”.

Take a look at these search results for “Electricians in Boston.”

Comparison between Google 3 Pack and & 7 Pack

If you own a real estate website want to appear on the top searches on Google, the first thing you need to focus on is getting the local SEO right. Now why is that important? Google does not display the same results for everyone. Your search results are personalized depending on your search history, preferences and location. This means that a person searching for condos in Miami, FL will find different results than one in Chicago, IL.

If you’re a real estate SEO, you will need to identify the regions where you want to rank well, and the pages you want to display in those search results. After all, there’s no point in trying to show a Miami listing to someone who’s searching for “condos in Chicago”

And the art of ranking on top in your targeted locations is, you guessed it, local SEO. But how do you go about optimizing your page for local SEO?

How To Optimize For Local Real Estate SEO

Claim Your Google My Business Listing

The first step in local SEO is claiming your Google My Business listing. This allows you to list your business details on Google, including your business name, business address and business phone number. We also call this your NAP (Name, Address, and Phone Number).

It’s very important that your NAP is consistent across all digital channels, such as your website and social media pages & accounts. Once you’ve claimed your Google My Business listing, you will start appearing on knowledge cards on Google SERPs, Google’s 3 Pack, and on Google Maps.

Google 3 Pack showing realtors in Houston

 

After your Google My Business Listing has been verified, you can also create citation accounts on Facebook, Yelp, Yellow Pages, Foursquare and other places. This ensures that when a user searches for real estate agencies or listings on these platforms instead of Google, you appear in their results.

Keyword Research for Real Estate

We’ve analyzed thousands of different real estate keywords to arrive at a winning formula. Our research shows that the best real estate SEO keywords use the following format:

  • “city name” real estate
  • “city name” homes for sale
  • “city name + state abr” real estate
  • “city name + state abr” homes for sale
  • “property type” for sale in “city name”
  • “property type” for sale in “city name + state abr”
  • “action + property type” in “city name”
  • “action + property type” in “city name + state abr”

 

You will need to study your market fully before you can create an exhaustive list of real estate keywords that will help you rank higher. However, you should also know Google is moving away from keywords to search intent – which is good news for both real estates and search users. This means that you can rank for keywords that are not explicitly mentioned on your page as long as you are satisfying a search query, while search users get to see relevant results that help them make a decision.

Create City Specific Content

Creating city specific content through blogs, transcribed videos and interviews is a great way for a real estate to rank their website. While this involves a lot of research and hours of writing, editing and publishing, the end result is worth it.

This also ties into the concept of E-A-T, which is an acronym for Expertise, Authority and Trust. Google will reward sites with high EAT and one way to improve your EAT is to be seen as an authority on the subject.

But how does that tie with local SEO?

Let’s talk about a fictional scenario: Emily is moving from her hometown of Scranton, PA to Chicago because she found a great job there. She’s looking to rent an apartment in the city. Probably the first thing she’s going to do, apart from asking around her social circle, is to Google “moving to Chicago.”

If you, a real estate agent, were to create useful, engaging and actionable content that answers Emily’s query by telling her everything she needs to know before making the jump, you increase the chances of her TRUSTING you to provide useful information and USING your website to find apartments in Chicago.

Example of a real estate sales funnel
Check out how Zumper develops an effective sales funnel by creating useful articles.

 

You need to be local and useful by creating content around each city where you want to dominate. Naturally, some cities will be easier than others depending on their search volume and competition.

Creating such top-funnel content opens up opportunities to hook a user when they are in their initial research phase. If you’re not sure about what to write, you can create useful content around the following topics:

  • City landmarks and attractions
  • Economy, jobs and top employers
  • Schools and neighborhoods
  • Restaurants and shopping
  • Transportation
  • Things to do

 

ON-PAGE OPTIMIZATION

On-page optimization is SEO-speak for making technical fixes and improvements on your website to help you rank higher. These fixes are prerequisites for winning at digital marketing for real estate companies.

Some of the things that we mentioned in Local SEO Optimization, such as keyword research and creating optimized content, fall under the category of on-page optimization as well. Obviously, we’re not going to be repeating them. But let’s discuss additional ways to optimize your website for SEO.

How to Optimize For On-Page Real Estate SEO

Be Mobile First

 Mobile version of realtor.com

Google has shifted to mobile-first indexing which means that your website’s mobile version is given more importance than the desktop version. If your website is still not optimized for mobile viewers, you should fix that before doing anything else.

Moreover, research shows that 73% of all users used a mobile device to search for real estate while 58% of millennial home buyers found their home on a mobile device. So, the verdict is pretty clear for real estate websites: it’s mobile or bust.

Optimize your tags and meta description

An easy fix, all you have to do is properly use state, city, and town names in your title tags, meta descriptions, and the main body.

Upgrade to HTTPS

Secure HTTPS symbol
Source: Server Fault

 

Ditch HTTP and go for HTTPS on your site. The ‘S’ at the end of HTTPS stands for ‘Secure’ because all information transferred between the browser and your site is encrypted using an SSL certificate. Google places more trust in sites with HTTPS, which helps you with rankings.

Implement Schema Markup

Use schema local markup to let search engine crawlers know exactly what they’re looking at and how to catalog all the information on your site. Schema markup refers to specific tags that “tell” Google how to display your page information on SERPs.

Real estate SEOs should also ensure that all of your listings are indexable and have an XML sitemap. This will give you an edge over your competitors who are too lazy to make sitemaps and schema work for them. The topic of schema markup is slightly long and technical. If you’re interested, here is a helpful resource from Moz to introduce you to the topic.

Add Tools Like Mortgage Calculators on Your Website

This ties in with our advice about creating helpful content. Most users who are in their early research phase will be using DIY mortgage calculators to get an idea of what’s in their range. Add this tool to your website to get these users into your funnel.

Zillow mortgage calculator
Source: Zillow

 

The best part is that you don’t have to create this tool from scratch. A number of mortgage calculator plugins are available that you can install on your website.

Optimize for Image SEO

Adding alt-text and optimizing real estate listings for image SEO increases Google Images clicks by 37%. You should make this a standard practice whenever you’re adding a new listing on your website. This tiny change could mean that your next lead, and $$$, are coming thanks to image SEO.

Fix Broken Links

Source: Varvy

 

Another best practice is to periodically audit your website for broken links. You can run it in small sprints by checking particular sections at a time. Chances are that you will find some broken links to internal listings that have been removed or to other sites that have changed the URL of the page you were linking to.

Broken links have an adverse impact on the user experience as it temporarily halts their search, and by extension, their journey down your sales funnel. You can use the free version of tools like Screaming Frog SEO Spider to check for broken links.

OFF-PAGE OPTIMIZATION

The third pillar of your real estate SEO strategy is off-page optimization. While there’s a limit to how much you can optimize the technical aspects and keywords on your page, off-page SEO (also called off-site SEO) gives you more room to work with.

One of the biggest focus of off-page SEO is earning backlinks. Google considers high quality backlinks as one of the best ways to assess your authority, and websites with a strong backlink profile almost always rank better. So, here’s how you can go about optimizing for off-page SEO.

How to Optimize For Off-Page Real Estate SEO

Get Your Properties Listed On Major Platforms

Zillow displaying real estate in Albuquerque, NM

Listing your real estate properties on platforms such as Zillow significantly increases their impressions (number of views). Zillow uses a massive database, smart technology, a great network of realtors, and continuous research to keep up with the market. In 2018, Zillow received a staggering 7.10 billion annual visits on their websites and apps, making it the most successful real estate marketplace in the world. You can also list your properties on other websites such as Trulia (also owned by Zillow) and Realtor.com.

Write Guest Blogs

Chart showing market share of different real estate websites.
Source: Placester

 

Identify reputable publishers within the real estate industry and contribute content to their site. Most publishers are hungry for quality content since there’s only so much their in-house team can create.

Guest blogs are a great way to earn backlinks that point back to your site. If your content is really good, you will be able to publish it on some of the biggest names in your niche and get backlinks from authoritative websites. If you’re not sure which real estate blogs to target, Hubspot has compiled an excellent list that you can check here.

However, effective link building requires a lot of resources. If all of this sounds overwhelming, you can always use the help of an experienced SEO agency to help you out.

Get Local Citations

A local citation is any mention or listing of your business on the web. Complete citations include your NAP (company name, address, and phone number). Citations are extremely important in ranking for local search results. Most citations may come with either no backlinks or no-followed links – that’s fine. If you get citations with backlinks to your site, that’s even better as it helps strengthen your overall backlink profile. You can get citations from Yelp, Yellowpages, Facebook, Instagram, Superpages, MapQuest and other places.

Earn Online Reviews

Get organic reviews on popular platforms to improve your brand image and boost your online presence. Make sure your reviews are not artificial or paid for, as this will hurt your rankings. Getting online reviews on Google Reviews, your social media pages or on Yelp is pretty easy – all you have to do is ask your clients who have had a good experience with your business. Research shows that 83% of consumers are willing to refer after a positive experience, so go get those reviews!

Things to remember

Now that you have a decent idea of what strategies to follow in order to get your real estate listings and your real estate website to the first place of Google and beyond (think featured snippets!), there are a few things you should remember so that you can gain the full benefits of real estate SEO without any of the negative effects.

  • Don’t delve into black hat SEO techniques
    However attractive they may appear, black hat techniques always end up harming your website and search rankings. Most of these techniques are old but some marketers still try to find out new ways to game the system. Given the learning speed of Google’s algorithms in light of recent updates, we wouldn’t recommend using these at all.
  • Practice patience and keep optimizing
    As stated in the beginning of this article, SEO takes time. Don’t expect your newly developed website to get to the first page of Google overnight. Good SEO takes time but the results are long-lasting. You can expect good leads for years to come.
  • Be careful with website changes
    If for some reason you are revamping your website partially or completely, make sure that your navigational framework is correct. So, whenever you move over content from your old site to your new site, set up 301 redirects to ensure that users will be taken to the new pages.

 

Start slow but finish strong!

So this concludes one of the most comprehensive real estate SEO guides that you’ll find on the internet. Keep in mind, if you choose a strategy from this article, make sure you follow through with it to the end otherwise it might not be as effective.

How To Optimize For “Near Me” Searches

The use of voice-enabled devices has increased exponentially during the past few months. These include Alexa from Amazon and Google Home.

Another similar phenomenon is the rise in local searches carried out by smartphones and other hand-held devices. Recent research has revealed that by 2021, search queries through hand-held devices will be responsible for around 1.5 trillion dollars in local sales.

If your business is not already optimized for ‘near me’ or local searches, this is the perfect time to start doing it.

This article will shed light on the importance of local search engine optimization (near-me searches in particular), enabling you to get a higher ranking; whether the user is searching through a desktop, laptop or any hand-held device.

What is meant by a ‘Near Me’ Search?

A ‘near me’ search generally occurs when a user is searching for something nearby, be it a product, service or simply information.

During the past few years, Near-Me searches have increased by 900%. One of the many reasons for this notable rise is that the majority of hand-held devices are GPS enabled; allowing Google to track the physical locations of users. This, in turn, allows Google to return the most localized results to the browser.

For businesses, ‘Near Me’ searches are a great way to reach prospective customers in no time.

When a searcher adds ‘Near Me’ at the end of his or her search, it shows Google that he or she needs the service or product immediately, and intends to make a purchase right away.

Now as we know how local searches are gaining in popularity, let’s explore further and identify the leading categories that are popular with “near me” search queries.

A survey carried out last year revealed that more than 80% of their respondents had performed a ‘Near Me’ search within the span of four days. It further stated that the majority of ‘Near Me’ searches were carried out for food and entertainment. People also searched for finance and banking, and clothes.

The results of the aforementioned survey make it clear to business owners and marketers that optimization for ‘Near Me’ is the most vital aspect of making a sale these days.

How to Optimize for ‘Near Me’ Searches

If you intend to increase your chances of appearing in ‘Near Me’ search results, it is extremely important that your business presence is optimized for these kinds of searches.

The following tips will help you with optimization for ‘Near Me’.

1. Listing on “Google My Business”

Let’s suppose you type ‘Italian Restaurant near me’ in search, and the name of a top Italian restaurant comes up immediately. How does this happen?

First of all, you need to open a business account on Google My Business. When you are creating this business account, make sure to enter the following information correctly:

  • Name of the business and its complete address.
  • Directions to reach the given address. These directions should be provided with the help of Google Maps. You should note that the name, address and contact details provided here must be consistent throughout all your business profiles present on the internet.
  • Working hours of your business (opening and closing times). Contact details including phone numbers and email addresses. Also, add the address of your website.
  • Make sure that you have selected the appropriate category of your business at the time of opening your business account.
  • Add a few photographs of your products or services.
  • Add general requests for users to write reviews. This is very important because prospective customers will read these reviews and make up their mind about making a purchase. Moreover, Google prioritizes (business) results with more reviews.
  • List down other attributes and amenities that you are offering to your customers, for example, free Wi-Fi, free delivery, etc.

 

2. Comprehend the Importance of backlinks with geographic anchors

Backlinks are very important if you want to increase your ranking on local ‘Near Me’ searches. You can achieve this by incorporating backlinks that offer geographically-relevant anchor text.

Here is an example: If you want high ranking for all ‘Near Me’ searches for New York, and for ‘steaks’, you must incorporate location-relevant variants of anchor text e.g. ‘best steak house in New York’ and ‘Steak house in New York’, etc.

3. A mobile-friendly website is a must

It is a little known fact that Google has a built-in preference for returning websites in its search results that offer the finest user experience.

You can achieve this by optimizing your website for mobile phones and hand-held devices. It will also increase their load speed on said devices. Consequently, you will rank higher on all ‘Near Me’ searches.

Make sure that your website offers the same great experience to every user regardless of which device they are using to access your website.

4. Obtain and incorporate local links within your blog

One of the best ways of obtaining local links is through your own blog. You can create and share articles through your blog frequently. It provides an opportunity for your audience and other users to remain updated as soon as you offer a new product or a service.

You can obtain local links through your blog and also persuade your audience to buy your products when they are searching for something similar on the internet.

Another great idea is to conduct interviews with local people and ask them to share their opinion about your product or service. These can also be shared on your blog.

This neat little infographic summarizes the basic steps you need to take to optimize your business for “near me” searches:

The Final Word

Near Me searches are getting more and more frequent which means that you need to optimize for these kinds of searches. Apart from using the aforementioned tips, you should also make sure that your URL remains easily readable and user-friendly.

Business owners who are able to tap into the ‘Near Me’ phenomenon sooner than the rest, will be able to reap the rewards earlier. Businesses that ignore it will be left behind in the race to riches.

If you haven’t already started optimizing for ‘Near Me’ searches, it is time to take the lead use it to generate new leads for your business.

Top SEO Trends in 2020 That Digital Marketers Should Be Aware of

2019 saw a great upturn in new websites created and with the majority of businesses developing a digital presence, ranking a website near the top spots has gotten increasingly difficult.

Similarly, search engine optimization (SEO) has changed as well and what used to work in the past, no longer works now (probably!).

For a long time, marketers used to build links upon links to rank and that proved successful up until the Google Penguin update. After which “user intention” gained much more relevance and importance. Since then, SEO has continued to evolve with user intent in mind.

With that being said, SEO strategists have also kept up with the flurry of updates and devised new strategies to ensure that website rankings don’t take a huge hit from all of Google’s updates.

Here is the list of SEO trends that marketers can expect to take advantage of in 2020.

Zero-Click Searches Taking Over

A zero-click search refers to any search query that is answered on the SERP itself such that users do not need any more clicks to complete the search. Zero-click searches have risen over the years, and this is only set to increase as Google becomes more and more integrated with different services.

 A study from SparkToro states that more than 50% of the searches end without a click to other content. The analysis carried out in June 2019 found that a lot of Google searches were completed without a click on any paid or organic search result.

Zero-Click searches

Since the introduction of featured snippets by Google in 2014, Google Local Packs, graphs, and more than half of Google searches have now become zero-click searches. This means that the answer to a user’s query lies in the SERP itself without the need to click anywhere. Zero click does not necessarily imply zero opportunities. The end goal always is to create awareness and share information by increasing exposure. Rich knowledge of featured snippets may act like billboard ads that may prove harder to track than website traffic. However, they still give needed exposure to the brand name; build familiarity and sharing information with the audience. Brands that find ways to benefit from such SERP exposure without a click are the ones who will win this new form of SEO trend.

Featured Snippets Taking Charge

Just as zero-click searches have found their way in SERPs, featured snippets have started to dominate SEO. In the scenarios where zero clicks have become prevalent, the information on SERPs has become more essential. Featured snippets usually appear above the first search result. To give the best information, you need to add the answer to an intended query in your featured snippet. Features snippets as a block of information bring a considerable increase to CTR. However, it is easier said than done.

Google has a way of determining quality based featured snippets and ranks them based on the evaluation. Do not take this trend lightly as it generates over 54.68% search results conversion. This proves it is almost half of the overall searches that are converted. Featured snippets represent a great way to rank no 1 on SERPs and generate traffic that is more organic.

Featured Snippets CTR

source: Ahrefs

Local SEO Changing the Scenario of Search Results

Customers search for the best services and results near them, and they want fast responses. In this aspect, local SEO helps your business to show up on local search results so customers can have quick solutions for their issues. If you have a brick and mortar shop or a franchise. Ranking in a local search guarantees you good business generation and conversions. Both Google and local shoppers recognize the value of having a local presence for any business. Studies suggest that local proximity values a great deal to customers. Local SEO, like Google My Business, allows the customers to have the most relevant search results according to their location. Accurate business information is a must as inconsistent information usually garners distrust for the business. Most of the time, customers directly call a local business without even visiting their website.

Local Search Stats

 

Voice Search Optimization

The advent of artificial intelligence has made AI-powered tools like Siri and Google Assistant to get the job done through voice searches. These searches have started to replace type-in search queries. Voice searches affect search engine optimization in big ways as it is all about making audio queries instead of entering searches. However, while making searches via voice, search engines must do a lot more than just showing relevant information. This change has become imminent, as, by the year 2020, more than 50% of the searches will be through voice. Whenever designing new content, be sure to optimize it for voice to take advantage of this trend. 

Optimization for Mobile

Any website or content not optimized for mobile can wave goodbye to their potential search rankings. Mobile search optimization is a trend that has grown considerably, and by the year 2020; most of the searches will be on mobile. However, technological aspects have become so advanced now that having a mobile website is not just enough. The interface has to grab attention, be easy to read and should answer all possible questions. Studies show that 4 out of 5 consumers conduct their searches through mobile devices. Search results on mobile have risen to 88% while on laptops and PC’s; it is about 84%. This shows that mobile searching has grown to a considerable value. Make the necessary optimization for mobile to take maximum benefit out of the idea.

 

Google BERT Update

The Google BERT update came out in 2019 and had all the SEO professionals’ attention. Why? Well, instead of optimizing for a specific or targeted algorithm, BERT focused on user-related optimization and technical content. That means search and aligning content according to user-specific access points. With users having more options to do their searches, SEO’s have to bear in mind all the essential foundations of clean and effective content delivery. With the introduction of BERT, Google has taken a huge step in making searches all about user intent rather than pure string searches.

Google BERT update

Source: https://www.searchenginejournal.com/2020-seo-trends/338697/

Video Marketing on the Rise

Video marketing is probably the most engagement-friendly digital strategy at the moment. Studies by Google has established that 6 out of 10 people prefer watching videos online rather than TV. The most common video marketing platform YouTube has become the new TV for people. YouTube has not only shared popular videos with people, but it has also provided marketers with the means of sharing information. The information shared on a video has a direct engagement with the audience in a detailed manner. Current users, especially millennials, prefer videos for either academic or entertainment purposes. This makes online videos as a priority for a huge number of businesses. A top-notch video has the ability to engage the audience while providing necessary business information. But how does it affect SEO? Well, to reach more users, marketers have to optimize their videos for appearing in search results. For this purpose, they use targeted keywords in their descriptions as well as verbal content to reach their relevant audiences. 

Content Is (Still!) King

Content is everywhere, from a written text to a picture to a video uploaded on a website, everything is content. Every website has a distinguishing ability based on content that Google finds appropriate. That is why Google prefers websites that have high-quality content. In terms of SEO, content affects everything, from structure to linking strategy to types of link building. Everything in SEO depends on content, and in 2020; you need to have the best content available to succeed. That means SEO’s have to develop or hire people who know how to develop quality content. They need to have proper knowledge about using the best practices for SEO optimized content. Having quality content means you have covered the most effective searches that help build authority for your sites. This demand is used in a very effective ROI based strategy. Certain principles like EAT  (Expertise, Authoritativeness, and Trustworthiness) allow you to build credibility for Google algorithms so your content ranks up as fast as possible. Using E.A.T and other content-first strategies are still the best ways to go according to Google.

Final Thoughts

SEO has evolved from just a link building activity to making high-quality, targeted content that fits perfectly with user intent. 2020 is the year of digital marketing in the sense that AI and its understanding of human perception is the closest its ever been. The aforementioned trends have started to gain pace among the users. Some of these trends are still developing and have a long way to go. New and seasonal marketers alike need to consider these trends to give a boost to their SEO strategy as well as give the customers what they need.

What Is E-A-T And Why Is It Super Important For SEO?

E-A-T has become one of the most talked-about SEO concepts today. While it has been part of Google’s guidelines since at least 2014, the search engine giant has been emphasizing it a lot more. So let’s find out what exactly is EAT, how it can impact search results, and how you can use it to create content that ranks above your competitors.

EAT  is an acronym that stands for Expertise, Authority, and Trust. It’s a framework described in Google’s Search Quality Guidelines that helps Google’s quality reviewers (comprised of real people, not bots) assess how helpful, or beneficial, a page is in answering a user’s query or solving their problem. Google wants to give users the most relevant results for any search query, and websites with better EAT tend to correlate with higher rankings.

Watch this quick video to learn more about EAT and how it will impact your business, marketing, and content:

 

Common EAT Myths & Misconceptions

Before we go ahead with explaining EAT, I want to clear away some misconceptions that a lot of marketers and SEOs have.

1. EAT Is Not an Algorithm

EAT is not an algorithm on its own. Google has a collection of millions of baby algorithms, which work together to rank search results for every search query.

 2. There Is No EAT Score

Google has confirmed there is no EAT score. That’s a huge misconception we’re seeing out there today. EAT isn’t scored, it is a reflection of the aggregated signals that Google captures when it crawls a page.

 

3. Expertise, Authoritativeness & Trustworthiness Are Not Direct Ranking Factors


EAT is the INDIRECT result of Google’s algorithms looking for onsite and offsite signals that correlate with EAT. For example, a website with an SSL will signal more trust to Google than a website that doesn’t have an SSL. So, Google is using a variety of signals as a PROXY to tell if a site seems to have E-A-T.

Why Is EAT So Important?

In 2018, Google updated its quality rating guidelines to focus more on the beneficial purpose of the web content. Google’s reasoning was simple: marketers had been creating content with Google in mind, not the end-user. They were trying to “game” Google’s ranking algorithm instead of creating content that would actually be useful for the reader. EAT was introduced as a way to reorient the focus back to the end user.

EAT is one of the primary factors that Google uses to evaluate the quality of results. In recent years, many updates to Google’s algorithm ranking were designed to address page quality which could be correspond to higher or lower EAT. If you fail to update yourself with the latest trends, you will lose both traffic and a considerable amount of revenue due to a decline in your rankings.

Let’s Go Through Each Component Of EAT

Expertise

Expertise is defined as possessing expert skill or knowledge in a particular field. If you provide a service or sell a product that you have deep knowledge about, you may be classified as an expert. Genuine expertise is hard to fake, especially when you’re a certified professional or are regularly cited by third-parties as an expert.

It’s also compounded by the fact that Google is now favoring a new form of Authorship to identify who’s actually the author of a piece of content and whether or not they’re experts in that space. For example, if you’re in the healthcare niche, your content would be rated highly for EAT if the author is actually a certified medical professional.
If an author is regarded as a genuine and trusted professional, Google’s ranking factors will consider the website to be more trustworthy. A good way to do that is to give easy access to author information by providing a summary at the bottom of the page, and by regularly contributing to industry publications.

The Doctor Weighs In is recognized as an expert in the medical niche because its articles are frequently written by actual medical professionals. Image source: The Doctor Weighs In

 

Authority

Authoritativeness is defined as being trusted as accurate and reliable. How does Google measure that? For now, it is relying on good old fashioned backlinks and mentions which serve as “vote”  for you being an authoritative source of information for the search result. If that sounds similar to popular metrics such as Domain Authority, Domain Rating or Trust Flow, you’re absolutely right – the principle is the same.

Users not only want to trust the expertise of a website but also want to make sure that they are on the best available resource. Although expertise is a great parameter for knowledge and skill, authority takes it one step further and ranks you against other websites to evaluate whether or not you’re a cut above the rest. Once you become the de facto source of information for a particular query, you’re no longer just one of many experts. You’re the authority.

Forbes remains one of the most authoritative websites on the planet, largely due to its ability to maintain a premium brand image, high editorial standards and a relentless focus on creating top-quality content. Image source: Moz

 

Trust

Trustworthiness is the ability to be relied on as honest or truthful. Trust is easy to lose but nearly impossible to regain. That’s why Google ranks those websites higher which have proven to be trustworthy over a considerable period of time.

Now, what are the metrics Google uses to measure trust? Some of them include having a large number of positive organic (unpaid) reviews, a straightforward way to reach out to the website owners (such as an info@yourdomain.com link), having a physical location, having an ethical set of terms and conditions for your sales and making your website’s domain secure by implementing HTTPS.

Another aspect is to focus on the trustworthiness of your content. You should focus on relevant topics and give insight into the same topic through multiple angles. You will establish credibility by focusing on its detailed aspects and can link them to multiple articles with the same content.

Outstanding reviews on places like TripAdvisor help build trust for your page, which translates into greater traffic and higher likelihoods of conversions. Image source: TripAdvisor

 

A Final Word

The latest changes applied by Google to its quality rating guidelines suggest that expertise, authority, and trustworthiness play a much more crucial role in the rankings than they did before. EAT serves as a way to keep websites focused on providing authentic information and keeping irrelevant content from ranking near the top which will likely hurt user experience.

Rankings are critical for visibility, awareness, and traffic. If you have low rankings, fewer users are likely to view your content which will hit you hard on revenue generation and result in a potential loss for your business. A higher EAT is your best bet to get the kind of traffic you want, which will only happen if you’re creating content that delights your customers.

 

How to Use Social Media to Earn Quality Links: A Link Building Strategy Guide

We all know that link-building is a crucial element which has great impact on website authority. The authority of a site, in simple terms, means how well our site ranks on search engine results pages (SERPs). Many SEO experts underestimate the importance of social media in a link-building strategy because Google has claimed that it doesn’t take social media signals into account while determining the authority of a page or a website.

If social media shares do not directly affect the authority of a website, then what’s the point of even reading this blog?

Let’s address the most pressing queries about social media and link-building, one by one.

Do Links On Social Media Count as Backlinks?

If you don’t already know the answer to this one, this paragraph is for you. Social shares are all considered no follow links, which means that they pass no authority from one site to the next. This indicates that while these may appear in your back-link profile, they are not counted as links that will boost your site’s authority.

Are all no follow links useless? Does social media provide any benefits for SEO and link building?

The simple answer is Yes!

And here’s the detailed explanation:

Recent analysis shows that Social media can indirectly impact your site, as Andy Crestodina of Orbit Media points out:

“Social media interactions correlate with quality and quality correlates with higher rankings.”

Most high authority websites have a credible and engaging social media presence followed by a good content strategy. You can test this on your own, type something like “best gym shoes” on your search engine and click on the first result that shows up, then see if they have an active social media presence or not.

If social media doesn’t impact link-building or page authority, then why are all the top brands/companies investing their time and money into it?

Brand Visibility and Recognition | Earning Organic/Natural Links

Even without a direct influence on SEO, a good social media strategy can increase your overall brand visibility. It helps customers understand what value your brand provides and how it caters to your target market’s needs, simultaneously redirecting users to your site and increasing referral traffic. A good social media marketing strategy helps you earn organic links. Organically earned links; or natural links directly improve the reputation of a website and where it ranks on Google and other search engines.

Current social media stats
The number of social media users worldwide in 2019 is 3.484 billion, up 9% year-on-year. The number of mobile phone users in 2019 is 5.112 billion, up 2% year-on-year.

 

Why You Should Optimize Your Brand’s Social Media Profiles

It’s always a good idea to optimize your social media profiles effectively, for two reasons:

1. So that they can be easily discovered in the search result.

People who are searching for your brand should be able to see your website, your Twitter profile, your Facebook page etc. in the search results.

2. To give you an edge over your competitors through brand-recognition.

The growing usage of social media these days has led the psychologists to compare it with drug addiction. People are spending so much time using social media platforms that it doesn’t come as a surprise if they are using these platforms to search for brands. Now, if your profile is not optimized or even visible on these platforms, it will adversely affect your brand’s top of mind recall.

Brand Recognition will give you an edge over your competitors. People will be more likely to click on your website, even if it ranks lower than the competition.

For example, if you are writing a blog on premium phones and you search for “best phones.” The first result is of a company you’ve never heard about vs. Apple. Which brand are you more likely to read about? Which one are you more likely to recommend to your followers? Once you’ve made your choice, you’ll probably link back to its site in your article.

What Makes Content Go Viral?

Have you ever noticed that extremely funny videos always stand a solid chance of getting significant views, shares, re-tweets, and likes?

This happens mainly because before people share your viral content, they make a quick assessment of what’s in it for them. This is known as social currency – people share and talk about things that make them feel cool or improve their self-worth. People rely more on emotions than logic while assessing your content.

Ever wondered why most of the top brands’ advertisers try to make you feel something through their ads rather than just giving specifications of their product? 

5 Tips to Create High Quality Viral Content

  1. Come up with an original and unique idea. If you do not have an original idea, improve upon an existing idea.
  2. Create an impact; evoke emotion. Make them feel something through your content.
  3. Develop practically useful content.
  4. Use interactive language, make your readers feel like you’re directly addressing them.
  5. Use visuals that create an element of a surprise.

It can be challenging to regularly come up with high quality viral content. Hence, consistency is the key. Test new ideas regularly to see what works for your target audience.

Pinterest | How to Generate Back-links to your Website with Pinterest?

Pinterest offers great SEO opportunities, as many of the pins and boards are indexed in Google. Pinterest posts also rank highly for specific search queries that require a visual representation. Furthermore, you can also create a pin that links back to your website and promote that pin.

Pinterest boards can rank in the top five results on page one of Google. This can offer a lot of value to your business if used effectively. Boards with a lot of active followers tend to rank better in search results.

Let’s look at an example, I searched for “decorating ideas for small living rooms.” This is a great long-tail keyword and the Pinterest board is my fifth result. Pinterest plays a significant role in ranking long-tail niche keywords.

Search result appearing in the 5th place

You must be thinking how all of this helps with link-building, it’s simple. Here’s how you can do it:

5 Ways to Optimize Your Pinterest Board

  1. Optimize Pinterest boards effectively. Convert the content from your website to info-graphics and upload them on your Pinterest board.
  2. Insert relevant keywords and a link to your website in the description.
  3. Draw visitors to your site with well-placed pins and useful descriptions.
  4. These visitors will share site with their friends (if they find the information on your site useful and informative).
  5. Some of them are bloggers or webmasters who would share the information on their website/blog and link it back to your site.

Facebook | Do Facebook Shares Count As Backlinks?

Facebook-related statistics
Majority of users on Facebook are in the 25-34 age bracket. With 2.121 Billion people, out of which 43% are females and 57% are males, Facebook has the highest amount of users to date.

 

According to Statista, people spend around 38 minutes on Facebook every single day. 2 billion people, spending 38 minutes every day, scrolling through their Facebook news-feed, just imagine the kind of exposure your content can get through Facebook.

Over the years we have seen multiple success stories of businesses that have grown exponentially over Facebook. It allows you to reach potential customers for your products or services.

Traditionally, a lot of marketers believed Facebook shares were a good ranking signal and, therefore, stated Facebook shares to help improve rankings. However, this is not entirely true. What they were unable to see was that, it wasn’t about Facebook shares at all. It was about links that came from Facebook shares, because of the kind of exposure that it provides.

Twitter | How To Get Backlinks Through Twitter?

Twitter has 250.8 million users worldwide. 34.5% of them are female, 65.5% are male and the majority is in the age bracket of 25-34.

 

Twitter plays an important role in increasing your brand’s visibility. According to Statista, Twitter has amassed 330 million active monthly users in just ten years. You can use hashtags and recent trends to your advantage and make your content go viral. Don’t forget to add the link to your site in your tweets.

The more followers you have the higher the chances of your tweets going viral, and showing up on Google’s search index. There is no reciprocal linking or monetary gratification required on twitter, as growth on twitter is entirely organic. If you get a mention on twitter your website will get a high-quality back-link from the published blog article.

Since tweets are crawled and indexed, each tweet containing your brand name and website link will show up in search results. This can increase referrals from social channels and build better brand recognition.

 

Instagram | How does Instagram help SEO & Link Building?

Instagram-related statistics
In contrast to Facebook, Instagram has more users under the age bracket of 18 to 24. It also has the second highest usage among all other social media platforms, with 894.9 million users out of which 50.3% are male and 49.7% are female

 

Research suggests 59% of internet users between the ages of 18 and 29 use Instagram. Millennials are well known to be tech-savvy, markedly different attitudes, beliefs, and norms than any other generation preceding them. Instagram as a platform can be very effective to specifically target millennials.

What Is Influencer Marketing for Instagram?

Influencer marketing is a lot similar to guest posting, marketers promote their products and services by partnering with popular social media users or bloggers within the industry. Influencers usually have a large, engaged audience that brands want to reach. This would help marketers to generate traffic on their website. This traffic would help the site earn more backlinks.

 

5 Key Benefits of Influencer Marketing

  1. To build brand equity.
  2. To reach a broader audience.
  3. Using visually aesthetic content to grow your fan base.
  4. Double redirects to website.
  5. To generate sales & leads.

More businesses are joining Instagram every day. However, the platform might be more beneficial for some specific type of industries more, such as; Lifestyle brands as compared to heavy equipment manufacturers.

A Final Word

Use our tips to improve your social media strategy. It will not only help you earn organic or natural links but also give a boost to your overall brand’s reputation.

However, prior to developing your social media marketing strategy, carry out a detailed research evaluating the scope of each social media platform for your brand via in-depth competitor & target audience analysis. Furthermore, if you want to up your social media game, stay updated about the recent trends and read up on social media success stories to further understand how it helps with link-building.

How to Optimize For Featured Snippets and Get to Position Zero

[This article was updated on April 27, 2020 to reflect the latest information regarding featured snippets, including Google’s January FS Update.] 

Featured snippets… You can love ‘em, you can hate ‘em, but you can’t get away from ‘em. In this article, we’ll dive deep into the world of featured snippets, figure out exactly what they are, and why they’ve become so important for SEOs. I’ll also give you a complete walkthrough on how you can optimize your webpages for featured snippets.

Who Should Read This Article?

  • Marketing specialists interested in optimizing their SEO for featured snippets.
  • Anyone new to the world of SEO who wants to learn more about featured snippets.
  • The 100% population of the internet that loves cat GIFs.

 

Watch Our Complete Video on Featured Snippets

 

What Is a Featured Snippet?

A featured snippet is a search answer shown at the top of a results page. It is Google’s attempt to answer your query right then and there. A featured snippet is intended to address an informational or situational need, which means that it appears on top of SERPs for answer-seeking queries.

What Was It Like Before The January 2020 Update?

Before January 22, 2020, a featured snippet looked something like this:

 

A pre-January 2020 featured snippet

Webpages with featured snippets appeared twice on Page 1, once in the FS and once as an organic result. This was also called duplication. It was beneficial for websites that were the featured snippet, as they got more SERP real estate. Because featured snippets appeared before the first organic result, they were referred to as Position Zero.

However, since January 22, 2020, that is no longer the case. If your page is appearing in the featured snippet, it won’t appear a second time in the SERP. Featured snippets now count as one of the ten web page listings shown by Google.

 

Types of Featured Snippets

Featured snippets typically come in four main formats:

Paragraph Featured Snippet

The most common form of featured snippets. Google will grab a paragraph from a page that best answers the search query and present it as a snippet.

paragraph featured snippet example

 

List Featured Snippet

These are lists that appear in numbered or bullet forms. They are more common for rankings, processes, step-by-step instructions and other form of list queries.

list featured snippet example

 

Table Featured Snippet

Table featured snippets appear less often, but when they do it’s usually for queries related to prices, rates, historical comparisons and other numerical data.

table featured snippets example

 

Video Featured Snippet

Video featured snippets appear for “How to …” questions that require a step by step process. The videos may not always start from the beginning, as Google’s algorithms might highlight a portion of the video it thinks best answers your query.

Example of a video featured snippet

 

Google also presents search answers in other formats, but they are not featured snippets:

 

People Also Ask

A list of similar queries, with an answer appearing in the drop-down. Fun fact: each answer is the featured snippet for that query.

Example of Google's People Also Ask Feature

 

Quick Answer & Tools

Quick answers provides answers to very specific queries, such as live scores, weather and time zones. Tools include dictionary, calculators, exchange rates and other conversions.

An Example of Google Quick Answers and Tools

 

Carousel

Displays several results in the form of cards, each of which is related to the original search query.

Google Carousel Example

 

Knowledge Panel

Appears as a panel on the right hand side of Page 1 and provides further information for a specific entity mentioned in the search query. Knowledge cards may include information from Google Maps, Google reviews, Wikipedia and more.

Example of Google knowledge card

 

I asked Bill Slawski of Go Fish Digital if there could be an overlap between featured snippets and knowledge panels, and this is what he had to say.

 

Why are Featured Snippets Important?

Featured snippets are appearing more and more frequently in search results. If you have the chance to appear on a featured snippet, you definitely should avail the opportunity. Failure to do so means you’re losing out on traffic, authority and maybe even customers.

Here are some reasons why featured snippets are becoming more common in search results and why you need to up your game:

1. You Get More Traffic

Yep, that’s right. Previously, if you were ranking on Position Zero, you’d be getting more traffic than the first organic search result. Studies by Ahrefs and Mangools showed that Position 0 pages always outperformed Position 1 pages.

And that holds true even after the January 2020 update. Cyrus Shepard of Moz ran a study where they opted out of featured snippets (the #1 position) for some queries for which they were ranking.

The results? Their ranking dropped to #2 or #3 AND they saw an estimated 12% drop in traffic for all affected pages after losing featured snippets (95% confidence level).

I talked to Cyrus and he said they didn’t track for differences between complete vs. “incomplete” FS. We both agreed that there’d likely be a shift in CTR between these types of featured snippets. I believe that if they had tracked for those differences, their study would have shown some really interesting results, as I suspect “incomplete” FS perform better than their “complete” counterparts.

So the verdict is pretty clear: if you’re serious about getting high quality traffic and beat the competition, you need to beat them in the rankings.

2. Voice searches

Voice searches are the future. Camscore estimates that by the end of 2020, 50% of searches will be voice based, thanks to improvements in mobile AI to better understand our speech patterns (think OK Google or Hey Siri), while sales for voice-based smart speakers like Amazon Echo & Alexa, Google Home and Apple HomePod show no signs of slowing down.

As voice searches tend to be longer, more natural sounding and almost always in the form of a question, the chances of a featured snippet appearing as an answer is much higher.

3. Builds Authority

Ask yourself, how many times do you even bother going to Page 2 of Google?

Users trust Google to provide them with the most relevant results and consider the top results as far more authoritative and relevant than those lower down on Page 1 or **shudders** on Page 2 or 3.

If you can provide useful content to people the first time, you increase the likelihood of them coming to you a second time. By ranking for a featured snippet, not only are you attracting more views and traffic to your content, you’re also building authority for your brand.

How to Optimize Your Blog Post For Featured Snippets

1. Are You Already Ranking On Page 1?

If you’ve been creating quality content for some time and know how to optimize it, chances are you’re ranking on Page 1 of Google. And if your content is really good, you just might be occupying a place in Positions 2 to 5.

Because you’ve already done the difficult work of reaching the first page, you are in prime position to get a featured snippet. In fact, the higher you’re already ranking on page one (between Positions 2 and 5), the better your chances.

By simply optimizing the code for your page and improving the structure of your content, you can easily jump to a featured snippet in a matter of weeks. Hubspot did it to capture multiple new FS spots where they had previously been ranking in Positions 2 to 5 (but not for a FS).

Keep reading to figure out how optimize your code and get featured.

2. Clean Up Your Code

By cleaning up your HTML, you make it easier for Google to crawl through your page and help it capture information you want to display in snippets. You don’ want to confuse Google about the topic of your content, nor do you want to display your content in a way that’s distracting for users.

A poorly optimized featured snippet
Do you really feel like clicking on this snippet?

 

How do you clean up your code?

The short answer: H2, H3, <p>, <ol> and <ul>.

3. Use H2 & Paragraphs <p>

 

An optimized paragraph snippet.
An optimized paragraph snippet.

 

Google see H1 as the main title of your content and H2 as the heading for individual sections within the page. If you want to appear in paragraph featured snippets, then you should use the following format.

<h2>SNIPPET QUERY </h2>

<p>PARAGRAPH SNIPPET</p>

Your H2 should ideally include keywords from the search query. Since voice based search queries are becoming more common and are structured as complete questions, you can also frame your H2 as a question and the paragraph snippet as the answer for your readers.

4. Use H2 and Ordered Lists <ol>

 

An optimized list snippet.
An optimized list snippet.

 

Did I tell you Google loves list? If you want to score a featured snippet for search queries about processes, lists, orders, and step-by-step guides, you need to structure your content for ordered lists.

Google will pull H2s as the snippet title and H3s as the list items in the snippet. Bullet points, or unordered lists, are useful in cases where the order is not important.

Here’s what the code for your list snippet should look like:

<h2>SNIPPET QUERY</h2>

<ol>

<li></li>

<li></li>

<li></li>

<li></li>

<li></li>

<li></li>

<li></li>

</ol>

 

Use these techniques every time you are aiming to capture a featured snippet. Not only would the content look better to readers, but it would also become more optimized for search crawlers.

5. Use Keyword Research To Find Snippet Opportunities

If you’re looking for new topics to write about and get featured, you need to start off with an effective game plan. Your first step should be keyword research as it gives you a lay of the land and really sets you up for success.

Snippet rich search queries are often framed as questions: who, why, when, what, how. With proper research, not only do you learn what people are searching for, but you also get to see what’s currently ranking on top.

All you have to do is figure out what exactly what type of content your audience wants and answer their queries.

 

6. Here’s Where To Find Snippet Opportunities

The best places to find the hottest search items include:

SEMRush

Screenshot of SEMRush's Dashboard

With SEMRush, you get to see the different combination of search queries for a particular keyword ranked according to the total number of monthly searches. This helps you identify the most popular keywords you can try to rank for and give the competition a run for their money.

SEMRush also helps you track featured snippets you’ve already won and highlights other keyword opportunities where you can earn snippets.

Answer The Public

Answer The Public Example
All the combination of queries you get just by typing “dog food” on Answer The Public.

 

A free tool that creates multiple offshoots of a keyword, Answer The Public is a great place to start brainstorming for keyword ideas. Simply enter a keyword, get dozens of query options, plug them in to SEMRush or any other tool you’re using, and find out what’s the best search query for you to rank for.

People Also Ask

Google's People Also Ask Feature

Google can also be a great place to find out what information the public’s after. Simply check out the “People Also Ask” section in a search result to see what other related questions people have been asking and decide whether you want to try ranking for it or not.

Apart from People Also Ask, Google’s search bar itself gives you a fair bit of an idea of what people are searching about. You might find it mildly annoying (I do, sometimes), but Google’s attempt to finish your sentence just might open up a whole new ranking opportunity for your brand.

 

7. Write Quality Content

At the end of the day, nothing beats quality content. You can try optimizing a poorly written article all you want, but all you’re going to get is a high bounce rate and low rankings.

Create content that people actually want to read, provide value so that your content is worth their time, and write it so well that it keeps your readers hooked till the end.

How the Inverted Pyramid Works
Source: Wikipedia

 

One technique you can use is the Inverted Pyramid. Commonly used in journalism, this technique structures your content by giving the conclusion (the most awaited part) first, and then delivers details which support that conclusion. If written well, your “conclusion” could be the paragraph snippet you’ve always wanted to get featured!

 

8. Take Care Of Your Word Count

According to SEMrush, most featured snippets have a length of 40-50 words, while Hubspot gives the cutoff point of up to 58 words.

Check out this snippet about U.S. President Woodrow Wilson that’s really pushing the limits at 51 words.

Google search of who was woodrow wilson

A Quick Recap on How to Optimize for Featured Snippets

Now you know what are featured snippets, why are they becoming more important and what you can do to optimize your page for featured snippets:

  • Identify your low hanging fruits
  • Optimize your code better than the competition
  • Know when and where to use H2, H3, p, ol & ul for snippets
  • Keep searching for new snippet opportunities
  • Create valuable content
  • Take care of your snippet word count

 

Getting a featured snippet is not impossible. Once you start using these tips, you’ll see the difference yourself. Who knows, this time it might be you who’s ranking on top.