On-SERP SEO. The Future of Google Search Without Clicking

On-SERP SEO. The Future of Google Search Without Clicking

At the end of 2018 together with one of our specialists we’ve decided to discuss the development of SEO, what can we expect in the upcoming time and how to prepare for it. The evolution of On-SERP SEO was one of our conclusions and today we’ll closely examine this issue.

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SEO is just like life – changes are the only constant things. The fact that Google updates its search algorithm 500-600 times a year is a perfect evidence for that. Although we don’t even notice many updates, each year there are a few loud ones that noticeably affect the SEO industry and are visible, for example, in the fluctuations in keyword phrase positions.

Algorithm updates directly affect positions of keyword phrases in the search results. But these aren’t the only modifications introduced by Google. Recently it’s been said that the layout of the search results is also about to change. The results with the so-called “position zero” take up more and more space on the first page of the Google search results. But what’s the purpose? Simply to keep the user on the search results page as long as possible.

At the Brighton SEO conference, Rand Fishkin referred to a few statistics which result from this practice. The most observable changes occur on mobile devices. Only in 2 years, the share of clicks on organic results decreased by 20%, while the number of searches that didn’t produce any clicks increased by 20%. This means that more and more often users are satisfied with the information provided in the search results.

Wyszukiwanie bez klikania w Google
Source: https://sparktoro.com/blog/on-serp-seo-the-infuriating-reality-of-searchs-future/

How is it possible? It’s due to the development of direct answers.

In my opinion, direct answers might also result from the changing approach of new generations (not only the legendary X and Y ones) to information. How many times has it happened to you that during a conversation you couldn’t remember the film title or you wanted to check the euro exchange rate ASAP? And what do you do in such a situation? You use your smartphone to find the information but again after an hour you don’t remember it. Why is it so? Because you can access a lot of information at any time. You’ve learned (or to be more precise, your brain has learned) that there is no need to remember everything as the answer is just around the corner or, in fact, in your pocket. So Google meets your expectations by providing the information even faster.

Increasing importance of direct answers

Direct answers and business cards are the information provided immediately in the search results.

What information can you get today without clicking on any search results?

    1. Information about hotels. Now you can find a hotel in a convenient location, check prices and availability or even book your stay without the necessity to visit the hotel or price comparison websites. Everything in Google.
      On-SERP SEO - hotels
    2. Weather. Want to know how to dress? All you need to do is to type “weather” into the search engine and you’ll immediately get a response tailored to the location and upcoming days. Moreover, you can even check weather in various places around the world.
      Direct answer - weather
    3. Flights. Just type the name of the city you want to travel to + “flights” and Google will automatically compare prices of different airlines. Everything without clicking and visiting airlines or comparison websites.
      Direct answer - flights
    4. Definitions. Don’t know what does “matroneum” mean? Well, me neither but we can easily check it by typing it into the search engine.
      Direct answer - definition
      Apart from providing a definition, Google also displays pictures from Google Images. This is another time-saving solution as you don’t need to click on the search results to see what something looks like.
    5. Celebrities. Even the SERP provides you with a lot of information if you enter a name or a nickname of a famous person. Just type “Rihanna” and you’ll find out what’s her full name, that she’s a singer, how old and tall she is, what are her most popular songs and where to look for them. Moreover, you’ll be even shown the most important news and videos. Sounds overwhelming? And all of these without entering a single website.
      Direct answers - celebrities
    6. Comparisons. Want to find out what different varieties of potatoes or cat breeds are distinguished? Again, Google turns out to be very helpful and provides the results in the form of the carousel ads.
      Direct Answers - cat breeds
    7. Sports. A summary of the most notable sports results and events can also be found immediately in the search engine.
      Direct answer - sports
    8. Dictionary and translator. If you’re searching for a translation of a foreign word, you’ll automatically be provided with its meaning or even numerous meanings.
      Direct answer - dicctionary
    9. Currency conversions. With the use of Google you can also conveniently convert currencies.
      Direct answer - currency

Of course I can keep giving more examples, however you probably know what is problematic. Google not only provides more and more answers in the search results but even becomes a sort of data aggregator, just as in the case of hotels or flights.

In the past, the search engine used to provide websites corresponding to specific search queries. Now it answers the search queries on its own.

Traditional SEO on its last legs?

Many could probably accuse Google of becoming a monopoly which, instead of redirecting users to particular sources, collects information from various websites and displays it to the interested users.

So if the answer is so easily accessible in the form of a search result, does the traditional SEO still make sense? Of course it does, and this is why:

    1. On the desktop devices, over 60% of queries lead to a click on an organic search result. On mobile ones, the percentage is lower but it’s still over 30%.
    2. Pages that are in the top 10 will still be displayed on the first page of the search results, additionally, they may also appear in direct answers.
    3. A person who types “cats breeds” into the search engine in order to buy a cat is a more valuable customer of a pet shop than a person who browses the net only to find some cute photos (here we come across proper selection of key phrases but we’ll come back to it in a while).
    4. Appearing in the top positions is equally important as the way in which you do it. That’s the moment when On-SERP SEO, meaning optimization of how the page is displayed on the first page in the search results, comes in handy.

But still, there is a question whether it’s worth to be displayed in the search results in position zero if it’s likely that the user doesn’t click on the result at all after getting the answer?

1. Yes, if you use and display appropriate keywords

If you want to increase the probability of obtaining organic traffic from direct answers, you need to think about it already at the stage of selecting your keywords. Apart from matching the words to your business and volume, you have to remember about the CTR of given words. It’s simply a % of the impressions of the words used that ends with a click. For example, the “java 11″ phrase results in a click in 29% of searches. For comparison, the “java 11 features” phrase has a lower CTR (21%). Therefore, it’d be better to be displayed in direct answers after entering the “java 11” phrase.

CTR of a keyword

 

2. Yes, if your strategy is deliberate

It’s true that being displayed in direct answers or having your business card displayed can reduce the number of clicks resulting in visiting your website. One of the possible solutions is to build your website strategy in such a way that the positive CTA and the information displayed in the search results provides only a short snapshot which encourages users to enter the website and find out more.

3. Yes, if you care about an expert image.

When your website appears directly in the search results, it undoubtedly has a positive impact on the brand. If you want to be perceived as an expert in the industry, this is a perfect way. However, remember that not every content will influence opinions about your brand  positively. So think about the image of your company you wish to create and optimize relevant content for direct search results.

On-SERP SEO. How do they see you?

OK, now you know how to start. But how to influence the way you’re displayed in the SERPS?

1. Start from optimizing your title and meta description

Although these are basics, people tend to forget about them. Today, adding a title and a meta description containing keywords and indicating what’s on the website isn’t enough. In the era of search without clicking you need to encourage the user to enter your site. Take care of the CTA or make your content appealing enough so that people aren’t satisfied only with direct answers.

2. Make your business card look attractive on Google

The information about your company displayed after typing in its name is also crucial because in such a situation users will usually see your Google business card (Google My Business) with photos, opinions, maps and entries. On our blog we’ve already discussed how to run Google My Business. Depending on your industry, you can put various information on your business card. Museums, for example, can publish information about current exhibitions or works of art:

Direct answer - museum

Companies that run a blog can publish their articles:

Wpisy blogowe na wizytówce Google

However, your Google business card is much more than just the information provided in Google My Business. Apart from that, it also includes:

  • Feedback and reviews from various websites – e.g. Facebook, TripAdvisor, Ceneo or GoWork. Therefore make sure you’re present on these platforms and you get the feedback.

Internet reviews in GMC

  • Snapshots from Wikipedia – not all companies can publish an entry about themselves on Wikipedia. But those which can will surely benefit from it when the information about them is displayed in the search results.

Snapshot from wikipedia in direct answer

  • Data from comparison websites – if you run e.g. a hotel, you can ensure that the search results compare different portals and prices they offer for a room. Remember to add your company to the comparison websites and catalogues.

Direct answer - data from comparison websites

If all of your activities are appropriately combined, then your business card can occupy a really impressive amount of space in the search results.

3. Implement AMP

AMP is an accelerated mobile website. Having it is required to be displayed e.g. in the Google Top Stories Carousel and in cookery recipes in the mobile search engines.

Newsy google - AMP

4. Get to know the schema attribute

The schema attribute enables Google to assign a given category to a specific content item on your website in order to display it later in direct answers. You can mark up a video, a recipe or even an article.

For more information on marking up your content items go to: https://developers.google.com/search/docs/guides/mark-up-content

5. Add breadcrumbs to the search results

Breadcrumbs indicate the users the website structures to which given subpages belong to.

Okruszki chleba w serp

6. Tailor your content to direct answers

Direct answers are, at the name itself suggests, answers to the search queries. Thus, if you want to be displayed in direct answers, your website content should be structured in terms of question – answer sequences.

Direct answer recipe

7. Create a transparent page structure

Proper design of your page structure will increase the probability of internal links being displayed in the search results.

Direct answer - page structure

8. Optimize photos for your website

If you do it, the likelihood of your photos being displayed in the Google Images search results is much bigger. The most important rules include:

  • adding an alternative description and a proper title of the graphic,
  • publishing your photos in the right context,
  • adding a photo description and a caption under your graphics.

9. Optimize your top 10 for Featured Snippets

Phrases displayed in the top 10 may be shown faster in the search results with the so-called Featured Snippets with:

  • lists,
  • tables,
  • texts in the boxes,
  • videos.

Check which Snippets can appear with particular search queries, add this element to your website and optimize it for the given query. The tables and lists may be also marked up with the schema attribute.

10. Create content that people wish to share

We’ve been always saying that content should be created for people and additionally, at the same time it can be optimized for Google robots. If the articles or news you publish are shared by others, your chances of being displayed in Google News or in Google Search Suggestions increase noticeably.

One thing can be stated for sure – Google attracts and keeps an increasing number of users on the search page by handing the information to them on a plate. And these are usually users who just want to find the necessary information very quickly without going into details. The answer whether it’s worth being displayed in the direct search results, and in which direct search results specifically, depends on your strategy. However, remember that you should carefully consider all of your activities and that they ought to focus not only on being displayed in the search results but also on increasing the CTR of given search results.

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Author
Marketing Coordinator - Kasia

Marketing Coordinator

Marketing and employer branding responsible since 2017. She wants Delante to be heard! Her experience has made her love design and analytical thinking, and that's how she approaches every task. A lover of travel and music, discovers new series in her free time or grabs the saxophone.

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