Technical

Competing in a more diverse search landscape

by on 1st March 2016

In this post we take a look at some ways in which we can leverage components that make up search results to increase the amount of organic real estate owned by your brand.

It all starts by building a picture of the landscape in which your site is competing. Tools such as AWR, Accurank, STAT, Authority Labs etc are capable of providing keyword & SERP level insights. We use the Stat API within our own in-house software to analyse the type and frequency of SERP features such as answer boxes, news results, app downloads, in-depth articles, twitter boxes, knowledge panel etc along with the performance of visible domains.

serpanalysis

With this data we have a clear understanding of who & what are currently occupying real estate on page 1 of organic search, so let’s take a look at how we can capitalise on these components…

Leveraging in-depth articles

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Getting a slice of that pie can be incredibly difficult via organic search alone, but with the in-depth articles feature present a feasible opportunity exists to gain some of the traffic share generated via broader keywords such as these. Check out our guide for more details on enabling in-depth article snippets on your own site.

As this feature runs on separate algorithmic logic, competition will be smaller than trying to compete within the main organic SERP although at times you’ll still be competing with well-known publishers:

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However, this provides yet another opportunity. From this data we know what domains are already capable of being featured and the type of content that works. I’d also expect that the majority of publishers just aren’t aware of the space they occupy here and for what search queries, and so outreaching with a new similar concept (or perhaps a follow up story to the featured author) can lead to the original post being hijacked and replaced with your branded content.

‘People also ask’

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This data can firstly be used to help build out a long tail search strategy around your core target keywords, and allow you to assess the type of content that’s resulting in exposure within this SERP component. Content typically capable of generating an answer box result like the below, tends to be a driving factor behind the content contained within these components:

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Working with site aggregators

There are no doubts that SEO is becoming more challenging especially for start-ups and small local businesses, where trying to rank organically for broad head-terms is unlikely. Whilst building on longer tail & local search opportunities is a sound strategy it doesn’t mean they have to give up on gaining exposure on page 1 for relevant and more competitive keywords.

With other SERP features excluded, brands need to think about how they can relate or gain exposure via sites already ranking on page 1 or 2 of Google. A lot of SERPS are now made up of product aggregators such as Trip Advisor or retail outlets, and so increasing organic exposure to related categories or round up posts where your product resides can have a positive impact on sales.

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For example Trip Advisor often ranks with ‘Top 10 Best Hotels in X’, so if your hotel is featured then giving the page a boost with a couple of decent links should have a positive impact on bookings. If your hotel isn’t featured look at ways to drive reviews, content, and links to your hotel page to improve its internal ranking on Trip Advisor, whilst at the same time builds on the long tail visibility.

Arguably this tactic will also benefit the other results featured in the lists / categories, but on the other hand if you’re not visible then you’re not driving bookings!

Building a Tweet schedule for search

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A more frequently occurring SERP feature that no longer just appears for people or brand related searches. Understanding what keywords again generate this type of result will act as another component to audience profiling that can allow you to optimise your tweets for search.

Schema.org/LiveBlogPosting

One of the latest structured data developments that Google is currently piloting with a handful of providers, and designed for content that updates in real-time. Despite the mark-up still being tested, Google’s already created a dedicated page within its structured data documentation outlining the requirements and installation guidelines using JSON-LD, which is usually a sign of things to come.

In summary, these are only a handful of ways in which you can look to grow the organic real estate occupied by your brand on page 1 of Google. With sudden changes to the search landscape such as the 4 ad SERP, as SEOs and marketers we need to be constantly on the lookout for other opportunities in order to maintain & grow search visibility and keep up with the times.

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