Nearly a third of people who look something up on Google click the first result first, and over two thirds choose among the first five. Only about 5 percent ever click on number six. Less than half a percent of searchers ever checks the second page.
When you take the time to Google something, which result are you most likely to go ahead and click first?
Optimizing for search results on Google is about as important as making sure you have a web presence to begin with, especially considering more than 81 percent of general queries on the computer and 94 percent on the phone go through the ubiquitous search engine. Fun fact, the verb “Google” (as in, “Google it”) was named Word of the Year twenty years ago.
It’s no secret that good SEO is as important as it’s ever been for digital marketers, and given the meteoric rise in ecommerce and the startling pace of digitalization in markets across the globe, it’s fair to say that it’s more important than ever.
If you’re interested in improving your Google SEO this year, you’ll be happy to hear that it is all about more of the same, for the most part. Google continues to place emphasis on bringing the best possible results to its users, and it’s on their definition of “best” that we all hinge our efforts. Key points this year are varied content, search intent, user experience, authority, and how solid your SEO fundamentals are. Let’s take a look!
Leverage Multimedia Content
Want to rank higher? A good first place to start would be to invest in different types of content. If you’ve already been producing text content for some time, it may be high time to branch out into graphical content (infographics, social media posts, etc.) and video content (YouTube shorts, TikToks, long-form tutorials, informative videos, etc.).
The key is to produce content that’s both relevant and valuable. If you’re in the business of installing photovoltaic systems, your graphic and video content might center around system comparisons, buyer guides, owner tutorials on installation and maintenance, tips on weatherproofing, system troubleshooting, and so on. Place yourself in the shoes of your average customer and answer the same questions they’ve been asking you for years.
Video, audio, and graphical content have the bonus of often netting you valuable backlinks. Providing informative content from a place of authority can help you become a reference for countless other pages across the web. But don’t forget to optimize your content. Provide text captioning, plain text summaries, tags, and a call to action.
Make the Most of Search Intent
This year’s important trend is being informed by the new Google Multitask Unified Model update, which was announced in May 2021. Ignore this if you want to make one of the most common SEO mistakes this year.
The MUM update intends to optimize search results to better match search intent, which might sound vague at first, but can best be summarized as an AI-based algorithm change that tries to come up with better answers to complex queries.
The example given by Google themselves asks what would happen if a user asked Google: “I’ve hiked Mt. Adams and now want to hike Mt. Fuji next fall, what should I do differently to prepare?”
Asking a human being would net a nuanced answer considering prior experience and timely factors, such as weather.
Asking a search engine, however, requires several thought-out queries to get a complete picture (Google estimated about eight queries for this particular example).
MUM is Google’s attempt at improving the way the search engine approaches these more complicated questions. Google estimates that MUM is about a thousand times more powerful at processing natural language and context than BERT, Google’s previous neural network-based technique.
What that means for you is that your content might get pooled into what Google considers relevant to a complex query. It’s important, then, for you not only to consider what might be relevant or interesting to your target audience, but how you might generate potential leads from people trying to find information in relation to your niche.
Google Still Cares About User Experience
The experience of navigating your on-page content should be a pleasant one – especially on a technical level.
Google has emphasized the importance of its Core Web Vitals, which include the rate at which the majority of your content loads onto the page (largest contentful paint), page responsiveness (first input delay), and visual stability (cumulative layout shift).
Pages need to be responsive on both desktop and mobile browsers, and avoid intrusive elements that Google deems negative – including most popups and heavy web elements.
Cover Adjacent Topics and Enjoy Fresh Traffic
Through an updated factor called passage indexing, Google began combing through content for relevant phrases and sentences that might provide useful information to a user’s query, even if they aren’t central to the content’s point. Through BERT and now MUM, Google will try to improve its understanding of user search intent and provide more relevant results.
Content marketers can adapt to this by expanding on the information they provide throughout their content. Touch on relevant topics and provide useful isolated passages while staying true to the point of your content to reap more traffic from interested users. Informativeness matters the most here – Google’s intent is to bring users the one or two sentences that best answer their query, no matter how deep it might be hidden in a longer article.
Authority Still Matters
On one hand, that means coming from a genuine place of authority – with the proper accreditation, experience, and site-wide theming – is worth a lot.
But it also means that being recognized as an authority on the web – through high-value, genuine backlinks, for example – is worth just as much. Continue to seek out high-quality backlinks (and avoid low-quality backlinks) to raise the value of your content in Google’s eyes.
Quality Is Important, However…
Content quality is important enough that Google has specific guidelines on what it considers as qualitative and uses third-party Quality Raters to refine their rankings. A good article will get more traffic than a bad article when all other factors are equal. However, that doesn’t mean it can make up for bad SEO.
A blog post can be incredibly informative, well-sourced, and very well-written, and yet still struggle to rank for any of its relevant search phrases. On the other hand, a well-ranking page without the prerequisite quality needed to interest viewers and gain leads might net short-term wins but may lead to long-term losses as visitors bounce. SEO isn’t a competition in prose or journalism.
Create content that others can use and link to as a resource for their audience.
- Eric Sachs, CEO
The quality of your fundamentals will take you a long way. Paying attention to high value keyphrases in your niche, capitalizing on web element optimization, and making use of all your KPIs can bring you up in rankings.
But you need a month-to-month refined approach to push you past the limit and stay on top of the competition. Need a team to work with? Give us a call today, and together we’ll take your SEO to the next level this year.