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Google Shifts from Search Engine to Portal: 5 Practical SEO Actions You Can Take to Compete Effectively

  • by George Prodanov
  • 21st Jun 2019
    • Brand Growth, SEO, Strategy, Web and Digital

5 Practical SEO Actions Your Business Can Take to Compete Effectively on Organic Search

Google’s Search Engine Results Pages (commonly referred to as ‘SERPs’) are hardly recognisable compared to what they looked like just a few years ago. The tech conglomerate, partly in response to Amazon’s ascension, has taken strategic steps to exert further control over the customer journey on search. Now users can bypass websites to acquire information, take action and even transact.

Google is becoming less “search engine, more portal” as put by Search Engine Land editor Jessica Bowman. These changes will have a profound impact not just on e-commerce, but on any business whose model relies on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). During her keynote SMX Advance in June 2019, Bowman put forth 5 measures companies can take to compete more effectively on the search engine ‘battleground’.

B2B Search Engine Optimisation (SEO)

1. Training your Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) Army

Bowman believes larger companies can benefit from incorporating SEO into their daily vernacular. And in turn conscript dozens, if not hundreds of employees. Educating your workforce on SEO fundamentals is a good start. Indeed, basic training and a set of SEO best practices followed consistently over time by a large number of people in your organisation can go a long way.

Of course, it’s unrealistic to expect of your staff to become experts in a what is a technical, specialist field. Still, their 20% of effort stand to make 80% of the impact on your brand’s overall Search Engine Optimisation (SEO), Bowman said. It is up to your SEO/Digital Marketing team as well as upper management to put this to practice.

2. Improving Copywriter Competencies

Product information, news, guides or any other content type all have better chances to be seen on the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) if they’re showcased within a knowledge panel, a carousel or as a featured snippet. This article by AccuRanker sheds more light on what those Google SERP features are and how you can make good use of them to boost your organic discoverability.

Your copywriters must create content that is comprehensive and authoritative relative to that of your competitors. ‘Competitors’ being not just the businesses you’re in direct competition with, but anyone else competing for that ‘window’ space online. As per usual, quality trumps quantity, but quality in high quantity is even better.

Writers across the company need to master concepts such as SEO-friendly JavaScript, schema, writing for the long tail, rich snippets and the “People also ask” section in the search results. As with any process, regularly reviewing copy and providing feedback can help assure quality and enable you to make the most of your efforts.

B2B Content Marketing Strategy

3. Master Schema and JavaScript for SEO

Schema is a valuable tool for Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) as it enables you to aid Google’s crawlers in processing your content more effectively. Correctly doing so improves the likelihood your content gets displayed as a featured snippet. Google now supports a number of content markups such as Event, FAQ, Speakable content and more. Click here to explore the different content markups Google has to offer. It must be noted however, that featured snippets along with other ‘rich results’ have a downside. While they increase the visibility of your content, users are now able to extract the content they’ve been looking for without visiting your site.

In case your site runs on WordPress’ CMS, Yoast has revamped its schema implementation to streamline structured data entry, but it’s worthwhile for your developers to verify the quality of your code. Using Googlebot’s latest update, it’s now able to see more of your content than ever. However, limitations still exist and marketers should be mindful of any possible JavaScript issues that may hinder your indexing. Prior to coding JavaScript, it’s important to address what content Google will and won’t be able to see. Moreover, keep in mind that search engines like Bing, Yahoo, Yandex, Baidu or DuckDuckGo may not be able to render your content.

4. Monitoring Mobile Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs)

As of 1st of July, 2019, new websites will be indexed using Google’s mobile-first indexing, whereby older sites will be evaluated for mobile-first indexing. Bowman argues that many marketers principally think in desktop terms, as we’re accustomed to using that interface at our work desks. Now that mobile has overtaken desktop, digital marketers must closely examine the mobile Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) to ensure your content is best optimised for the formats and devices your audiences prefer.

5. Leveraging Big Data

A data scientist is better equipped than an SEO specialist to study data. Data scientists are best qualified to spot data trends and patterns you can use to inform your content strategy and enhance your User Experience (UX). You can take advantage of the Google Chrome User Experience Report to compare your site speed with that of your competitors, as well as reference UX metrics from popular destinations throughout the web.

In the last couple of years Google has transformed its organic search results. Rather than viewing this as a nuisance to put up with, businesses can view it as an opportunity to reach more prospects by using these search innovations to their advantage.