5 Ways to Win in a Zero-Click SERP

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We’ve been saying it for years – Google is making it less likely for users to click through to a website. With the introduction of the local pack to featured snippets to local service ads, users can find the information they’re looking for in the SERP or on a Google product. We knew this, but it wasn’t until Spark Toro published its findings in June 2019 that we could prove the seriousness of the changing search engine results pages.

The data shows that less than half of Google searches result in a click.

Staggering, yes. Surprising, no. Of course, Google wants users to stay in the Google ecosystem, exploring Google products and, most importantly, clicking Google ads. So, what does this mean to marketers and business people? The purpose of this blog, and the basis of our session at Digital Summit Detroit, is to offer five ways to win in a zero-click SERP.

man smiling with elbow resting on podium with text overlay reading 5 ways to win in a zero-click serp

1. Optimize Google Properties

At the time this blog was published, Google-owned 89% of the North American search market. And while Google is being investigated for anti-trust violations, that figure is not going to change anytime soon. Rather than sit and wait for legal intervention, we recommend focusing on two Google properties that take up a considerable amount of real estate on the SERP: Google My Business and YouTube.

Google My Business (GMB) – Google My Business is the driving force being the local pack. If you’re a local business, you need to take GMB deathly serious. At Oneupweb, we tag all our GMB website links to track GMB referrals separate from Google organic. We find GMB users convert at three to four times the rate as typical Google organic users. Users who click the local pack are further down the sales funnel than the typical organic user. One analysis, based on 140 local businesses, shows a strong positive correlation (0.702) between the number of stars (rating x reviews) and GMB sessions.

scatter plot depicting organic sessions are related to star power

YouTube – Most businesses are managing Facebook. Most businesses probably even have a video strategy of some sort. Not many businesses, however, pay much attention to YouTube. This is shocking, considering YouTube is the most widely used platform amongst US adults, according to the Pew Research Center. YouTube also takes up a considerable amount of the SERP via featured videos and the video carousel.

2. Win Featured Snippets

Many marketers thought featured snippets would keep users from clicking through to learn more. That may be true for everyone except the website that owns the featured snippet. Often, the website with the featured snippet also ranks 1-3 organically, which means they own most of the above-the-fold SERP.

We recommend using SEMrush to monitor your domain for featured snippets. Run a report on your competitors. What featured snippets do they own? Export your organic keywords. Home in on question queries for which you’re ranking highly. Optimize these close-but-no-cigar pages to see if you can steal a snippet. We recommend focusing on page speed, media attachments and clearly answering the query.

3. Target Keywords with High CTRs

No two businesses are identical. The same can be said for click-through rates. While there are plenty of CTR models on the web, we prefer mapping our own. This can be done by exporting search queries from Google Search Console and pasting them into our Excel template. Follow the instructions to chart your click-through rate and identify keywords with above-average click-through rates. Now what?

  1. Analyze the SERP.
  2. What other features can you capitalize on?
  3. Next, look at the landing page.
  4. What can you do to enhance the user experience and optimize the conversion rate?

4. Double Down with Paid Ads

At Digital Summit Detroit 2018, we made a case for aligning SEO with PPC. By connecting Google Ads with Google Search Console, we’re able to export a report titled, “Paid and organic.” There are so many opportunities contained in this report. After crunching the data, we found that the organic CTR improve for 72% of the keyword when paired with a paid ad. The same was true for paid ads, but even more extreme. We found the CTR for paid ads improved for 79% of keywords when paired with an organic result.

  1. Connect Google Ads with Google Search Console.
  2. Export the report.
  3. Identify high-opportunity organic-only keywords that may be worth bidding on.
  4. Identify high-opportunity paid keywords that you could be ranking for organically.

5. Report on Off-Site KPIs

This one comes up often on client calls. When reviewing organic clicks-to-call, there’s always an explainer: This doesn’t include calls that happen on the SERP in Google My Business. That information is not readily available in Google Analytics. It’s also not easily integrated into mainstream reporting platforms.

We recommend using Google Data Studio to build reports that include various sources of data. Most Google products are easily integrated – Google Ads, Google Search Console, Google Analytics. However, Google My Business, which is perhaps the most important Google products to some local businesses, is not easily integrated into Google Data Studio. For that, marketers must use Supermetrics to connect the two. And the result is beautiful. Rather than report on organic calls happening on the site, you can also report on organic calls happening on the SERP. Finally, a full picture of organic calls.

We also recommend adding GMB impressions, GMB reviews and YouTube KPIs.

Your Content Marketing & SEO Partner

The big takeaway is that you don’t need to be afraid of the changing SERP. Rather, you need to adjust your strategy and your reporting accordingly. This is no different than anything else marketers have experienced in the past decade. In this industry, you either innovate or you die. If you need a digital marketing partner that’s always on their toes and thinking one step ahead, lets’ talk.

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