What are the biggest ‘hidden’ changes within SEO when it comes to organic search results? And what is the best way to adapt your strategy to this to grow organically?
Trends & changes within SEO
These are our main findings. Please note: the figures in this article are based on American data, but also give a good picture of the changes for European countries.
1. Continuously leading Google & organic search results
Let’s start with the less surprising news. Google is and will remain the largest search engine in 2019. Competitors are not even close: Google has about 30 trillion searches to answer in the US every month. In Spain, 92.5% of the searches take place within Google. Google’s share in terms of the number of searches is huge.
Google’s share in terms of the number of searches is huge.
Organic results remain leading
Organic results are still the most important source of information within search engines. And that this share continues to grow. In an average of 65% of the cases, organic, i.e. unpaid, search results are clicked through.
To clarify a zero-click means that someone does not go anywhere after entering a search term. The answer is often already on the page or a Google vertical is offered (e.g. Hotels, Flights, Shopping, etc.). Of course, it can also happen that the search result does not match the intention and that the user enters a new search query. In this way, the user stays on the same page as where the search started: within Google.
Keep an eye on DuckDuckGo
You ever tried DuckDuckGo? Although the share of DuckDuckGo is still relatively small in the Netherlands, Spain and other EU countries, we see it here more and more often as a source of traffic for our clients. In the category ‘Among the 350 million searches’, DuckDuckGo is the fastest growing search engine in the US. DuckDuckGo is also the default search engine for the Tor Browser, which has also increased in popularity in recent years. A platform to keep an eye on.
Marketplace Amazon – the second largest search engine after Google – is also experiencing significant growth.
2. Content forms other than text are leading in search results
You need more and more different forms of content to keep competing in organic search results. Think of videos or featured snippets: short pieces of text at the top of the SERP (search results page). According to Rand Fishkin, these contribute on average to a higher click-through rate. It is important to make this technically accessible (for example based on structured data) to provide search engines with as much information as possible. This can contribute to your visibility, with the help of structured data and video, your company can dominate the search results for the search term “make sushi” for example. According to many experts, this is one of the biggest trends & changes within SEO in 2019!
3. Google keeps traffic largely within its platforms
Google won’t allow itself to be knocked off its throne. Because Google directly answers user questions in its search engine, the user does not have to click through to external websites. Also, referral traffic from Google is strategically forwarded to other Google platforms (e.g. from Google to YouTube).
This strategy proves to be successful: almost 37% of Google’s traffic is internal traffic to another Google-owned platform, such as YouTube, Google Shopping, Google Flights, Google Hotels or Google Maps. This percentage is only increasing. This cut the middle man out strategy has several consequences.
Text optimisation alone is no longer enough for SEO
Google increasingly answers queries using YouTube videos, featured snippets, answer boxes, “people also ask”, and other forms of direct answer snippets in the SERP. Remaining or becoming organically visible to your target group requires that you work with more content types than just text.
The user intent underlying their query and the type of query plays a crucial role here. For example, it is preferable to answer a ‘how-to’ question with a video or a numbered enumeration. After all, the question implies an explanation of a certain process. A ‘what if’ question, on the other hand, can rather evoke a so-called paragraph featured snippet: a snippet that immediately provides the most relevant answer possible with several short sentences.
The increase in voice-related queries
The increase in voice- or podcast-related searches pose a new challenge in accommodating this intention. For example, if you perform a voice-driven ‘how to’ search, do you still want to see a video? Or rather a step-by-step explanation of a voice-activated loudspeaker?
A relatively new development within voice search is ‘Speakable JSON-LD’. This specifically structured data markup indicates parts of a web page that are speakable. You use the markup to indicate which parts of the text are particularly suitable for conversion from text to speech. In this way, you feed Google’s algorithms with data that helps to capture the user’s intention as well as possible.
Zero clicks increase
35% of users who enter search terms in Google via their desktop do not click on the organic listings. This is slightly different on a mobile phone. Here the organic clicks have dropped, and the zero-click rate has risen from 56 to 62% in recent years.
Google optimizes the SERP in such a way that users get an answer to their search query earlier: directly in the SERP. This means that they no longer have to click through to a website to find their answer, but remain within the Google domain.
At the end of 2018, Rand Fishkin researched this in collaboration with Jumpshot. He even claims that the mobile no-click (or zero-click) searches have increased by 11 percentage points on mobile, and by 9.5 percentage points on a desktop in the previous two and a half years. His research is therefore well worth reading to learn more about this topic.
4. Google’s internal platforms expand
In addition to redirecting users within their platforms, new Google platforms are being developed that will only reinforce this process. For example, Google SERP has recently compiled travel guides for you when you are looking for a specific holiday destination. Or directly search results with Google Flights or Google Hotels.
5. Search intent differs per platform
How and what people search for differs per search engine. You can assume that marketplaces such as Amazon often search with a purchase intention, and on YouTube mainly for entertainment or information using how to’s, product comparison or test videos.
You can see which search engines are used for which types of products. It indicates that you should not only focus on Google if you want to grow organically within search engines. Example: On Vitamin D, users mainly search within Google. Baby wipes are also searched in marketplaces such as bol.com. This is, therefore, a relevant search engine for you to grow organically.
It is increasingly important in search that you focus on the right platforms with your content and associated keywords. Focus your strategy on this, so that you can organise your organic digital marketing efforts as efficiently as possible.
How do you respond to these Organic SEO Trends?
You are now familiar with several important trends and changes within organic search. How you as a brand respond to this with your SEO and content marketing strategy will be the most important challenge. A game that you have to be on top of to win.
Trends & changes within SEO: This is our general advice
1. Look beyond Google: in addition to textual content, create other relevant forms of content that rank within the SERP: make sure, for example, that you are visible with videos on the right how-to keywords.
2. Consider other platforms for organic growth, such as online marketplaces. Be present here with buying intentions-oriented keywords.
3. Optimize your website for user questions from your customers. This allows you to achieve featured snippets and thus get maximum attention for your brand.
4. Invest in your brand awareness (branding).