These days searchers are clicking on the organic search results less than they ever have before. There are a number of different variables that are causing this, but two of the major ones are:
Increased Number Of SERP Features
Knowledge boxes, instant answers, invisible organic results, featured snippets, all work to reduce organic click-through rates.
Aggressive Google Ads
What is the most effective way for ad giants like Google or Facebook to increase advertising revenues over the short term?
They reduce the organic reach to force you into paying for ads.
I don’t think Google really cares about providing searchers with quality answers. But keep in mind: they care about making their shareholders happy even more. Google will do whatever it takes in order to increase its advertisers CTR.
Don’t ever forget that. The real question is: what steps can you take to boost your organic CTR?
- Do Not Target High-Risk Keywords.
- Do don’t want to target keywords that have a high chance of generating low CTR.
Google is able to answer basic questions such as “what is the temperature” or “what time is it at “location?” On those kinds of queries, it isn’t necessary for the searcher to click through.
Briefly put: Avoid using keywords that are easy to answer.
Build Your Brand
The key to succeeding with SEO in the long term is branded searches. More branded searches can be attracted when you have an incredible product and through providing your market with amazing value.
Also, For SEO branded searches are a major trust signal. I strongly believe that the trust and reputation of your brand is the future of having effective SEO.
We will be discussing this more in a minute.
Voice Search Is Becoming More Popular
Voice is not the future. It is here already.
Here is the good news for you, Optimizing for voice search doesn’t require you to do anything different.
This includes all of the traditional SEO actions such as:
- Link building
- U optimization
- On-page SEO
- Creating effective SEO content
All help with voice search performance. However, there is one key difference. So to get good voice search results, focus on your traditional rankings.
Mobile Search Is Continuing To Dominate
A majority of searches are done on mobile devices.
To be exact, Statista reports that 52.2% of total website traffic is generated through mobile devices.
It varies based on what industry you are in.
There are some B2B and other industries that get most of their traffic from desktop computers, but for a majority of industries, most of their traffic comes from mobile. That is why Google has rolled mobile first indexing out. They have a lot more data than us and it is clear that mobile is even more important than ever before.
This means you need to have a mobile-friendly website. Also, mobile experience must be outstanding. Which bring us to my fourth SEO prediction.
UX Is Becoming An Even Stronger Ranking Factor
Optimizing your website’s UX is among the best ways to make improvements to your SEO performance. In fact, it was discovered by Adobe that alone should make you value UI/UX optimization even more highly.
So, How do you optimize UX?
These are some obvious UX optimization activities such as:
- Don’t use disruptive ad placements
- Don’t use aggressive interstitial pop-ups
- Make your website mobile friendly
- Increase the loading speed of your website
However, one UX optimization matter more than anything else for SEO:
Optimize for User Intent
So what does this mean?
This means your site should satisfy the specific intent of the keyword that is being searched.
I will not be getting overly deep into it, but the in order to really understand user intent the best way to do that is via categorization. Memorize the following four kinds of user intent below:
- Informational: When a user makes a search like “how to build backlinks,” their intent is informational so that is the kind of content you want to serve them.
- Comparison: If “Ahrefs vs Moz” is searched by a user, they are wanting to contrast and compare those two products (to help them make an informed buying decision). If you have a page that explains the pros and cons of the products will satisfy their intent.
- Transactional: If “buy SEO services” is searched by a user, then they are ready to make a transaction.
- Navigational: If someone searches “Amazon login,” then you exactly what the person is searching for. So just give them the login page. Easy.
It is easy to satisfy user intent. Each time you are going to target a specific keyword try getting into your searcher’s mind. When entering the search query what are they actually wanting?
Trying to figure this out is time well spent. When you get it right it helps to improve the UX of your page. Optimizing your UK is your baseline for achieving effective SEO.
When a website has strong UX what happens?
What signals can be used by Google to determine what is best?
Easy, the same signal they have used from the start.
To Rank You Still Will Need Backlinks
Some people claim that UX is more important these days than backlinks, or backlinks don’t matter anymore.
That is absolutely false.
Backlinks matter and will continue to be crucial to Google’s algorithm today and well into the future. With everything else being equal, backlinks are the only differentiator that is accurate.
Say there are two pages that are competing for a specific keyword.
Both of the pages:
- Have all positive user signals and perfect UX.
- Have ideal page-level optimization.
- Both of the pages have well-researched, in-depth content that a qualified expert has written.
Which of the pages deserves to be ranked #1?
When there are no external signals making a decision can be fairly challenging. That is why backlinks are so crucial for Google’s algorithm. However, don’t just take my word for this. SEMRush came to a similar conclusion.
Ahrefs examined 1 billion pages with its Content Explorer index and found there is a direct correlation between total overall organic search traffic and total linking root domains.
In fact, what they discovered was over 90% of the pages in the Content Explorer index get absolutely zero Google traffic.
And approximately 85% of these pages had fewer than 3 linking root domains.
Face the facts: trying to claim that backlinks are not important for SEO purposes is kind of trying to deny climate change. It isn’t supported by the data.
Accurate Information Is Becoming Even More Important
I think that this theory was tested by Google with its “Medic” update. Also, I think it was not a successful test since numerous website experienced a reversal after it was dropped.
It was like the test that was run to see what the SERPs would look like if link signals were not used. However, I do think E-A-T and is going to be an even bigger deal in the future.
Google wants to have accurate that real experts have written in their search results. This sentiment can be felt in Google’s Search Quality Evaluator Guidelines. That all returns to quality content. The Panda algorithm targeted low-quality, thin affiliate websites.
So why would they not continue going down this path?
What Google wants to do is eliminate potentially dangerous and inaccurate information from its search results. Google has all of the negative and positive information on your brand. If your company mistreats its customers or your product sucks, then your SEO performance is also going to suffer.
It will not happen tomorrow, but it is on its way.
Ranking Will Be Taking Longer
Ahrefs found that the average top 10 ranked page is more than 2 years old. That is why I put so much emphasis on patience. SEO experts know this is a long-term process. If you aren’t willing to do the work over the long term, then it probably isn’t the best channel for you.
However, for people willing to be patient and do the work, there is huge potential.