In 2018, Google shifted from a search engine to a discovery platform. What does that mean for your organic search strategies in 2019? Check out this recording of our live 2019 Organic Search Trends webinar, starring three of The Search Agency’s senior SEO experts. In this TSA Talk, our speakers cover everything from Google’s shift to discovery and new SERP integrations, to voice search and topic clusters. We also let you know which old-school SEO tactics you need to leave behind. Get ready for the wild ride that 2019 promises to be with our team of Earned Media experts!
Date: April 23rd, 2019
Time: 11am PST
Meet Our Speakers:
Brandon Schakola is our Senior Director of Earned Media and Strategy, focused on Technical SEO and SEO Strategy for direct response and performance-based marketing.
Gregory Sidor is an Associate Director of Earned Media at The Search Agency. Gregory is particularly interested in optimizing for Google’s Knowledge Graph, winning Featured Snippets, and helping clients develop practical and effective content strategies.
Amanda Haxton has spent 10 years in the digital content space in SEO, content marketing and social media. As a Manager of Earned Media at The Search Agency, Amanda is responsible for planning and implementing SEO and organic audience-generation strategies for clients across a range of industry verticals.
With all these new integrations appearing directly on the search results, what does that mean for SEO? Is SEO dead?
No, it doesn’t mean that SEO is dead, it just means that it’s a lot more complicated. So now what’s changed is that our strategies really need to be revolving around not just the original 10 blue links, but in making sure that you’re showing up in all of the different contexts where someone may be either searching for you or discovering new pieces of content through their journey, and taking advantage of all of those placements that are available.
As we’ve looked at, you know, even just that one quick search result on Baker Mayfield, there are additional sometimes 59 extra positions within those results for you to take advantage of that may actually be way more engaging than the standard 10 blue links.
So, I would be looking at what are all the different feature integrations available within your vertical space that are currently available for the content that you’re hosting. Figure out what you need to change about your templates or your XML sitemaps in order for Google to pick up on all of the various forms of media that you’re serving. I’m sure that you’re up to date with accelerated mobile pages. If you haven’t implemented a strategy for that, you’re essentially behind. I would be focused heavily on making that a top priority. And then I would look at how you measure that. You need to have some sort of way of predicting how that’s going to affect the business, whether it’s through brand visibility, increased types of searches, or a new bump in the variety of the kinds of searches that are serving up your content and the various forms of media that you have.
How can brands migrate from subdomain to subdirectory, if that’s already established?
Typically moving from a subdomain to a subdirectory is fairly simple. If it’s because you are on say, a particularly different platform, oftentimes using a reverse proxy can resolve that issue. Or you can actually, you know, if it’s not on a different platform, you can go ahead and merge that content in with your platform and then just make sure you have the proper 301 redirects from the subdomain to the location in the subdirectory.
Is keyword research still important in a topic cluster strategy?
Keywords are still important in a topic cluster strategy, but they won’t feel as forced. If you’re writing in-depth and with authority on a topic it’s natural you would use the lingo or language related to it. You can do some keyword research as you plan your content, to make sure you cover the important areas of any given topic. But you shouldn’t be hyper focusing or keyword stuffing a page towards a single long-tail keyword.
What role do search integrations play in device search beyond featured snippets & quick answers?
So, there’s a lot out there and we saw some of those in our presentations. Interesting Finds was one of them. There’s of course videos, and the sort of chronological timelines that Brandon highlighted. So you need to consider the product or service that you sell and where the opportunities may intersect with those different integrations. And with voice, it’s going to be another kind of wild ride of seeing what new and interesting things come up, whether that be skills and actions or translating featured snippets into voice responses. So it really is an open field right now, and we have no doubt that Google will be coming up with new and interesting search integrations.
What can brands do to take advantage of feature integrations, and what should they measure to prove their worth?
Well, there are various tools that you can use for understanding what feature integrations are available. A few of them that we know of are Searchmetrics, who we partner with, we also have a partnership with Linkdex, and a lot of these tracking tools have the ability to at least begin to surface which queries have those kinds of integrations coming in. Now with those, what’s more important, especially if you’re talking to a C-level executive, is to understand how you can use that alongside the keyword and topical layer research to be able to predict volume and how that volume is going to affect leads, new sales, and how that applies to your funnel, depending on what vertical you’re in.
Is it easier to appear in one type of SERP integration versus another? And where should we start if it’s our first time targeting these placements?
Yeah, so featured snippets are really are the place to start for most websites. There’s a couple reasons for that. One is that they appear for an increasing number of searches, so there’s more opportunity out there on both desktop and mobile. And the other is that it’s one integration that’s a little more transparent about optimization. So we know certain things, like phrases, building your content so that you include those common questions in the text, and marking them up with the right header tags. We have certainly seen success in the past with that. And so, if you’re just getting started with integration, that’s a good place to begin to prove the ability and the worth of those.
With everything you were talking about with the topic cluster strategy, is there such a thing as too much content?
I think there can definitely be too much content if you’ve taken kind of a scatter gram approach in the past. Back in the day, a lot of businesses were writing a number of blog posts for a variation of a long tail keyword, even with, you know, perhaps the singular and the plural of that keyword and that content, it verges on being duplicate, it’s usually low quality and underperforming. So if you do have a lot of underperforming content, then you do have too much. Um, and you might then want to look at pruning some of that.
I would say we’ve definitely seen some examples. In a good majority the core updates and we saw in the algorithm in March, um, we at TSA, we’re always interested in some very large ecommerce sites that we’re always kind of poking our heads around and looking at large winners and losers. Um, some of them that we saw there, including super large sites like Zazzle, we saw losing out on really fairly big queries surrounding things like wedding invitations and, um, and sort of like over-optimization. Um, like Amanda was just talking about. And one of the things that we saw there is, outside of just a connection to larger topical relevance pages. A lot of those were very thin, they were kind of almost on the edge of, almost been kind of spun content.
The other thing that we noticed is that a lot of those pages were oftentimes disconnected from the overall larger site hierarchy in the sense that you couldn’t navigate to specific landing pages and then download through the site, like a normal reasonable surfer would. Instead you have these pages that were disconnected and just there for the particular purpose of trying to capture traffic on a particular term. And I think Google over time, from the beginning of the Panda Algorithm, has been really pushing, you know, content producers including the large e-comm brands, away from that kind of strategy to something that’s more based around a solid user experience where you don’t need multiple pages for a singular concept. You just need to have that larger conceptual focus. And then things that are really answering questions that people are asking.