The Importance of Understanding the Search Landscape in 2022
With the search landscape continuously changing, it’s more important than ever to focus on more than just your rankings.
Over the last few years, Google has continued to roll-out new updates across their algorithms and introduced a ton of new ranking features. As an SEO, keeping up with all of the new changes, latest industry trends and news can become a full time job in itself, so it can often be difficult to take a step back and understand what’s really going on in the wider landscape.
Depending on search query and industry, some of the SERP features you may come across are;
- Rich Snippets
- Refine By
- Knowledge Cards
- Carousel Results
- Top Stories
Featured Snippets & Zero Click Searches
When Google re-introduced featured snippets and ‘position 0’ results back in 2018, you’d be lucky to spot one in the wild. Fastforwarding a few years, the vast amount of daily searches are returned with either a list, table or paragraph snippet.
Although these are incredibly useful to the user, we’ve seen CTR decline over time, and some searches even being branded as ‘zero click searches’. Zero click searches are those where Google will answer your query, with no need to click through to a site at all – pretty scary, right?
Well, it can be, especially if you don’t even have to search anymore before seeing the result.
Many sites may be seeing a decline in click through rates (and even impressions), as Google’s answering these queries for us, then it’s inevitable. This is where, as SEO’s, we need to consider our wider strategy.
Don’t just optimise your content;
Optimise the SERP too.
When reviewing the overall search strategy in 2022, it’s impossible to execute the same strategy on every website. As every business, every industry and every search query is different.
Let’s take the term ‘flights to Dubai’ for example.
Below, we have dissected a screen-grab of the SERP, until the first organic listing. Yes, that’s right, the FIRST organic listing. Keep scrolling, and you’ll get there.
Above the fold, there’s four ads for ‘flights to Dubai’; one of which has sitelinks, taking up a large proportion of the search results.
Once passing the ads, Google then lists a fairly new ‘find results on’ feature, which highlights a select few comparison sites. Following this, we’re then shown their Google Flights feature, displaying upcoming flights with the duration and airline, also allowing you to select chosen travel dates, which leads you to Google Travel.
After scrolling a little further, you will then finally reach the first organic listing…
However, the SERP features don’t end there, as this is followed by a COVID-19 travel restrictions notice and a People Also Ask feature.
Using the above as an example, if you’re ranking in position 1, it’s fair to say you’ll never see the same clickthrough rate as you may have done a few years ago, when these features didn’t exist.
Similarly in this situation, as competition is so high; it’s important to ensure you’re utilising the extent of your search result listing, to try and gain a higher CTR. Whether you’re optimising your page titles and meta descriptions or implementing schema on these core landing pages, all factors can positively impact your clickthrough rate.
Implementing schema mark-up on site is not only important to enhance your organic listing, but also to help appear within People Also Ask (PAA) features and related searches too.
There are currently over 700 different schema types which can be implemented on websites. Yet, that by no means we need to use them all. Tailoring schema markup to each industry and landing page is crucial. Some of the most common implementations to help increase CTR are FAQ and rich snippets; which may include aggregate star ratings and sitelinks.
Implementing Cross-Channel Strategies
When we’re presented with 3 or 4 ads above the fold, it’s often disheartening to realise how far a user will need to scroll before even being able to see your organic result. Although, it just highlights the importance of implementing a cross-channel strategy with paid media.
Whether you need to push to be in those positions, or whether you’re appearing in every feature on the SERP, a holistic strategy is key to marketing success.
Optimising My Business Profile
If your rankings are struggling with a long term solution in place, optimising GMB could be a great solution. Google Business Profile is an organic listing which is often forgotten, and optimising your listings could be the best thing you ever do.
There are many occasions where GMB is the first feature on the SERP, especially when using local search terms. Alternatively, these results often feature on page one of the search results, so it’s pivotal to gain one of the three spots; rather than your competitors.
Executing an Organic Strategy
In conclusion, the key organic success in 2022 is to understand the search landscape where you will be competing. This will never be the same for each website, as each organic strategy should be unique and bespoke to your business; with your customers’ search intent at the forefront.
Rather than measuring your success on rankings alone, it’s crucial we analyse all factors which may impact organic performance, taking into account any new features within the SERP which may have positively or negatively impacted these metrics.
It’s also essential to ensure you have a cross-channel marketing strategy in place, which will enhance performance even further. Whether you’re looking for Digital PR, SEO or paid media services; a holistic strategy is vital as we head into 2022.