The phrase “content is king” emphasized by SEO professionals in the past is no longer the case.
It has been an active year for Google. Multiple updates over the past three months have resulted in significant changes in the way SEO and businesses manage the quality of their websites.
On September 8th, I hosted a Sponsored Search Engine Journal webinar presented by Jordan Koene, SEO Strategist and Consultant at Searchmetrics.
He shared the three ways SEO has changed this year, why it’s important, and what you need to do to create growth.
Here is a recap of the webinar presentation.
This year, Google has been ahead about the changes they’ve made to search.
- MOM IA. MUM is the AI model that delivers newer, faster and more extensive information processing capability. It helps Google manage the transformation of text to text. As a result, Google’s ability to process and understand the text and meaning of a page is faster than ever.
- Rules for “modifying” SERP features. Over the past decade, the SERP has changed a lot. There is an accelerated amount of influence from Google these days.
- More basis for performance. Being faster and cleaner doesn’t always mean you’re a winner. Even though Google has been telling us for years that Core Web Vitals and speed are important success factors, this is no longer the case.
The rate at which Google is making these changes is faster than what we’ve seen in previous years. But, thanks to MUM, Google has been able to make so many changes over the past 12 months, like the T5.
T5 deals with text-to-text transfer transformations and how Google developed faster ways to process information from a linguistic perspective or even meaning and intention.
MUM got us through this at a much faster pace.
Why it matters
The reason MUM and technologies like MUM are important to Google is because they improve their ability to impact businesses.
The number of US companies has grown from around 29 million in 2018 to around 32 million in 2020.
However, only 17 million, or about half of these businesses, benefit from Google services (Google My Business, search, YouTube, etc.)
Only 2 million, less than 10%, actually benefit from Google ads from all of these companies.
That’s why Google is stepping up the pace and speed at which they are making these changes because they want to reach more businesses.
For many of us in the SEO space, the hunt for more traffic doesn’t necessarily mean focusing on more keywords; it will likely evolve to improve the performance of the keywords we already rank for.
What people are looking for: live events
There is massive year-over-year growth in keywords and terms related to concerts, shows and stadiums.
- Searches for concerts at have grown globally by over 500% YOY. Top searches include: “chicago 2021 concerts”, “2021 atlanta concerts”, “dallas concerts,” las vegas concerts “
- Searches for auto shows near me experienced global growth of over 300% year-on-year. Top searches include: “auto shows near me this weekend 2021”, “auto shows near me this weekend”,
- Searches for stadium seats have grown globally by over 600% YOY. Popular searches include: “Dodger Stadium Seating Chart”, “Busch Stadium Seating Chart”, “Wembley Stadium Seating Plan”,
- Searches for live music near me have grown globally by over 400% YOY. Top searches include: “live music near me”, “live music near me tonight”, “restaurants with live music near me”, live music near me “.
Think about it, what keyword are you currently focusing on and how are you driving traffic and brand awareness for it?
The performance of a set of terms in a particular topic today has far more impact than our ability to secure more traffic for more keywords.
What people are looking for: in-store shopping
- Searches for open now near me experienced global growth of over 200% year-on-year. Top searches include: “restaurants now open near me”, “food now open near me”, “fast food restaurants now open near me”, “pharmacy now open near me”
- Searches for mattress stores near me experienced global growth of more than 50% year-on-year. Top searches include: “mattress stores near me,” “discount mattress stores near me,” “best mattress stores near me,” “bed and mattress stores near my house
- Searches for open 24 hours near my home experienced global growth of over 80% year-on-year. Top searches include: “24 hour stores near me”, “24 hour restaurants near me”, “24 hour stores near me”, “24 hour restaurants near me” ,
- Searches for store near me open now experienced global growth of over 40% year-on-year. Top searches include: “tire store near me open now”, “tire store near me open now”,
In particular, research around “open now” has changed during the pandemic.
What you would generally think was a driver of growth during the pandemic, outdoor dining, was not the case due to the compelling consumer constraint on indoor dining experiences.
Understanding these research patterns can be useful for data points on how we manage our research expectations. Google processes information like this about which pages and content to display at a much faster rate.
Google SERP features and future prospects
SERP features have become Google’s most important asset in changing the landscape.
Here is a small overview of the different SERP features and historical volatilities for other feature elements in the SERP.
Google can now accept unbranded search queries and understand where and when to place site links versus unbranded search queries with MUM. As a result, links from search sites are more prolific in the SERP.
The whole concept around SERP functionalities is our ability to rethink our brand’s orientation in search.
So this is not necessarily a prohibitive factor in our ability to generate traffic from search.
It all comes down to our ability to develop new strategies that create automation around processes, whether you take advantage of FAQs or your ability to optimize primary navigation pages to show more frequently for a site link. .
SERP features require rethinking search data
The reality is that today’s dynamic market demands faster, more focused decision making than ever before.
- Rethink your brand’s direction in search.
- Demand automation of the process.
- Create faster, more dynamic content and engagement.
You can leverage these assets as a source of traffic and as a source of brand awareness in Google.
The real story on Core Web Vitals
Searchmetrics conducted a study of 2 million URLs, examining the performance of sites in Google. Unfortunately, only 4% of the 2 million URLs they crawled achieved a good Web Vital score.
You’re sitting in a place where Google has a lot more say in the expectations for essentials of the web, but more importantly, performance.
Just being the fastest doesn’t necessarily mean you get the most traffic.
Core Web Vitals Next chapter
A shift from defense to offensive for Google.
- Expect more volatility from CVW factors in shorter time frames
- Provide competitive advantages at the page level
- Use more design factors to generate experience scores
It is a collective effort. It boils down to creating a playbook that takes us from a simple, faster website to offensive positioning where we focus more on what Google expects and the competitive demands required to be successful.
How to create growth?
Of the billions of searches performed on any given day, 15% of daily searches are new to Google. But what’s exciting is that that number is drastically down from 2012, which accounted for 20% of daily searches.
We need to reposition our focus on growth to reach more searches and focus on our brand, relevance and SERP footprint.
The SERP is a new landscape requiring new techniques to be successful.
Key points to remember
- Due to their desire to reach more businesses, Google is stepping up its pace and speed to implement the changes.
- It’s not necessarily about focusing on more keywords to get more traffic; instead, it’s about improving the performance of the keywords we already rank for.
- To achieve more searches, refocus your brand, relevance, and search engine footprint to grow.
- Today’s dynamic market requires more focused and faster decision making than ever before, thanks to the SERP.
Want more information from Jordan Koene? He is a regular guest on the Voices of Search podcast. Watch his latest episode on winners and losers from August 2021.
[Slides] 3 Ways SEO Has Changed This Year
Check out the SlideShare below.
Join us for our next webinar!
Missed Opportunities: Rethinking Call Tracking for Google Ads and SEO
Are you ready to improve your business approach and convert your leads faster? Join our next webinar on Wednesday, September 22 at 1 p.m. ET and find out how you can improve your lead generation campaigns with call tracking.
Featured Image: VectorMine / Shutterstock
All screenshots taken by author, September 2021