With the year 2018 drawing to a close I thought I would put together a few posts on the condition of the search industry, my views on any interesting developments, the future of search and it’s largest player, Google. The search landscape in 2019 will be rocky but at the same time picturesque scattered with Google Search Features and other obstacles. There is a path for webmasters to follow if you have the map.

The Gentlemen's Agreement

(Sorry for the gender specific term. I wracked by brain trying to think of something to better describe the way I feel… I failed). As an industry we are at a crossroads. The online giants have gotten greedy and ripped up the rule book, the unwritten code of principles that held the internet ecosystem together.

Content providers, (which includes you if you have a website or other online presence) produced the pages behind the Google Search Results, or the Facebook Posts, or the Tweets, or even the YouTube Videos. The search engines and social media platforms made money by serving adverts in addition to this content (in addition to, not instead of).

To Think like a Blogger is a skill that all small business owners have to learn when they launch a website. Web Design Posts at Online Trade Marketing.

This gentleman’s agreement between content producers and platform providers allowed these major players to collect the largest amount of data in human history. Data they’ve used to amass vast sums of wealth, the likes of which we have never seen before.

This post is for Beginners, a basic look at the WordPress Dashboard. The options you have and what to do when you first open up your new website admin panel. Blog Posts at Online Trade Marketing.

Google, Facebook and more recently Amazon know more about human behavior than all of the worlds psychologists combined. And how were they able to achieve this? With our content. Blog posts, product pages, research, videos, infographics and everything else that we, as a community produced. How many people would have used Google for the past 20 years if it was 100% advertising. Similarly Facebook, Bing, Twitter, Yahoo?? Not many. In fact most, if not all, would never have survived to become to megaliths they are today.

The level playing field is now the past. The internet is a different place. The understanding between website owners and the Search/Social Giants is dead. We must now see Google as a competitor.

Rand Fishkin in his recent keynote speech at Brighton SEO described it as an “abuse of power.” And that is exactly what it is. Take a look at his full speech below.

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Part 1 in a series of Posts on The Search Landscape in 2019. Here we look at Google Search Features; Snippets, Knowledge Panel, Structured Data and more. A News and Opinion Blog Post by Online Trade Marketing.

What are Google Search Features? And why you should care.

Recent data from SparkToro shows that search results pages resulting in no click are on the rise over the past 3 years. What does this mean? It means that Google is satisfying searcher intent on it’s own, without external websites, for more and more search terms. This would include weather, spelling or dictionary searches, currency exchange rates and math problems. Thousands of other search will often result in no click and this is without Google Maps, self hosted video or Image Search.

Google has introduced a number of SERP features over recent years. These features go some way to explaining the statistics above. MozCast offers a wealth of knowledge in this area. The following stats. are taken from MozCast. They are a snapshot of what search results pages look like over the past 30 days and what Google Search Features are displayed;

“A Featured Snippet is the summary of an answer to a user’s query. It is displayed above the first search result or in “Position Zero”. It is extracted from a one of the first page results, and includes the page’s title, URL and often an image. There are three types of snippets, depending on the query: Paragraph, List or Table.”

Search Engine Watch

% of Search Queries Displaying Featured Snippets

Part 1 in a series of Posts on The Search Landscape in 2019. Here we look at Google Search Features; Snippets, Knowledge Panel, Structured Data and more. A News and Opinion Blog Post by Online Trade Marketing.

“Business information is in the knowledge panel. When people search for a business they may see information about that business in a box that appears to the right of their search results. The information in the box can help customers discover and contact your business.”

Google Support

% of Search Queries Displaying Knowledge Panel

Part 1 in a series of Posts on The Search Landscape in 2019. Here we look at Google Search Features; Snippets, Knowledge Panel, Structured Data and more. A News and Opinion Blog Post by Online Trade Marketing.

“The local pack, sometimes known in the SEO industry as the Maps Pack, or the 3 Pack is a group of 3 businesses that appear in a box at the top of the page just after the ads. Sometimes the Maps pack will have more or less than 3 results, depending on the situation.”

Cleveland SEO Consulting

% of Search Queries Displaying Local Pack

Part 1 in a series of Posts on The Search Landscape in 2019. Here we look at Google Search Features; Snippets, Knowledge Panel, Structured Data and more. A News and Opinion Blog Post by Online Trade Marketing.

“Related questions appear in an expandable box, mixed in with organic results. If you click on any question, it expands into something that looks like a Featured Snippet. Related Questions can occur in packs of between 1 – 4 questions and answers.”

Dr. Pete Meyers, Moz

% of Search Queries Displaying Related Questions

Part 1 in a series of Posts on The Search Landscape in 2019. Here we look at Google Search Features; Snippets, Knowledge Panel, Structured Data and more. A News and Opinion Blog Post by Online Trade Marketing.

Google AdWords is Google’s advertising system in which advertisers bid on certain keywords in order for their ads to appear in Google’s search results. Businesses can advertise on Google by opening a Google AdWords account. The position of the ad is determined by your ad rank (Maximum Bid times Quality Score).

WordStream

% of Search Queries Displaying Google Ads

Part 1 in a series of Posts on The Search Landscape in 2019. Here we look at Google Search Features; Snippets, Knowledge Panel, Structured Data and more. A News and Opinion Blog Post by Online Trade Marketing.

Video results (especially YouTube) may display a thumbnail. They used to be a true vertical but are now more of an organic enhancement. Video results will only appear for certain keywords. At the very least, video schema markup must exist on the page.”

Moz Learning Centre

% of Search Queries Displaying Google Video

Part 1 in a series of Posts on The Search Landscape in 2019. Here we look at Google Search Features; Snippets, Knowledge Panel, Structured Data and more. A News and Opinion Blog Post by Online Trade Marketing.

More Stats from SparkToro paint and equally gloomy picture of overall CTR within SERP. Organic Click Through Rate is declining while paid ads click through rate is increasing;

Part 1 in a series of Posts on The Search Landscape in 2019. Here we look at Google Search Features; Snippets, Knowledge Panel, Structured Data and more. A News and Opinion Blog Post by Online Trade Marketing.

The key finding are stark. Between January 2016 and September 2018;

  • Organic Desktop CTR down from from 68.6% to 65.6% (3.0%)
  • Organic Mobile CTR down from 44.4% to 38.5% (5.9%)
  • Paid Desktop CTR up from 4.1% to 5.6% (1.5%)
  • Paid Mobile CTR up from 3.3% to 8.7% (5.4%)

These may seem like small amounts, who cares right? How may organic clicks are being lost in a single day? Most estimates put a low figure of 5 billion searches per day and we take the desktop figure of a 3% decrease over a 3 year period. That is 150 million organic clicks lost per day.

Google is taking clicks away from websites, because overall the number of search is UP!! They are ending up in 2 places; no click at all, ie. the query is resolved by Google without the need for a click. Paid ads, websites paying Google to appear at the top of the search results page. This should set alarm bells ringing for all of us.

Many of these Google Search Features can present opportunities for websites that are positioned to take advantage of them. Let’s take a look at the example of “polenta chips.” It’s far from 10 blue links but on the plus side it doesn’t have any ad results.

Featured Snippet

Otherwise known as answer box or “Position Zero” because it appears above the position 1 organic result. Google lifts the content of the snippet from 1 of the first page results, but not always the position 1 results, it can be any of the 10, often 6 or above. It consists of either a paragraph, list or tale plus the page title and URL. In some cases there is also an image taken from the page.

Part 1 in a series of Posts on The Search Landscape in 2019. Here we look at Google Search Features; Snippets, Knowledge Panel, Structured Data and more. A News and Opinion Blog Post by Online Trade Marketing.

According to Getstat and Moz the most popular featured snippet is the “paragraph” type:

It is a double edged sword. Reports are that click through rate for the SERP as a whole decreases with the presence of a featured snippet. But, if you can secure this position for yourself then you can see an increased CTR of up to 30%.

Google would like you to believe that Featured Snippet is designed to help searchers achieve their goal (ie. information on a given topic) faster. 

This is disingenuous. It is one of many Google features designed with voice search in mind. Voice Search is the number 1 objective at Google. Have you noticed G Mail auto completing your sentences? That’s Google learning how people speak. Featured Snippet is what Google Assistant would read to you if you were to ask Google Home a question.

Google is largest search engine, by far. If you want you business to succeed you cannot ignore it.  

As you can see above, recipes present excellent featured snippet opportunities. They are most commonly a list, with an image.

Part 1 in a series of Posts on The Search Landscape in 2019. Here we look at Google Search Features; Snippets, Knowledge Panel, Structured Data and more. A News and Opinion Blog Post by Online Trade Marketing.

Make sure that Google knows that you are showing a list, or table, or answer. Above is the code for the first item on the recipe list but most content management systems will take care of this for you.

How do I Secure a Featured Snippet?

It’s simple to say, but less simple to implement. Find keywords that you already target that 1. display a featured snippet and 2. You are already anywhere on the first page. These are easiest wins. You’ll find that the website in the featured snippet position is somewhere on the first page.

You’ll need to do 2 things; create a better page than them (not a better ranking) and optimize your page for featured snippet. Ask a question in your article and put that in the title or subheading. Immediately follow the question with a one-paragraph answer, list or table and elaborate further on that answer in the post.

This is most common Google Search Feature and one that you can target. Let’s look at some of the other, for the same “polenta chips” search.

People Also Ask

This is a variation of the Featured Snippet. A list of questions related to the original search. Google offer you a list of questions that it believes may be of interest to you.

Optimizing your content for featured Snippets will in all likelihood gain you a number of these spots. Below, on the left is the first result in the “People Also Ask” feature. On the right, the question typed into a fresh search. They are the same result. 

Part 1 in a series of Posts on The Search Landscape in 2019. Here we look at Google Search Features; Snippets, Knowledge Panel, Structured Data and more. A News and Opinion Blog Post by Online Trade Marketing.
Part 1 in a series of Posts on The Search Landscape in 2019. Here we look at Google Search Features; Snippets, Knowledge Panel, Structured Data and more. A News and Opinion Blog Post by Online Trade Marketing.
Part 1 in a series of Posts on The Search Landscape in 2019. Here we look at Google Search Features; Snippets, Knowledge Panel, Structured Data and more. A News and Opinion Blog Post by Online Trade Marketing.

Structured Data

Google really likes this stuff. They are involved in it’s development and are using it as a ranking factor. It’s more important to some sectors than others but every business should implement it, at least for reviews.

Part 1 in a series of Posts on The Search Landscape in 2019. Here we look at Google Search Features; Snippets, Knowledge Panel, Structured Data and more. A News and Opinion Blog Post by Online Trade Marketing.

On the right is the result that secured the Featured Snippet for this SERP. It has a star rating for the recipe and a cooking time. But as you can see from the page source code below, this website has added a great deal more structured data. Google chooses which data to show, what algorithm deems relevant.

Part 1 in a series of Posts on The Search Landscape in 2019. Here we look at Google Search Features; Snippets, Knowledge Panel, Structured Data and more. A News and Opinion Blog Post by Online Trade Marketing.

<script type=”application/ld+json” data-fapi-id=”16010c10-39a9-4b88-af12-b1cd5a3fdcd1″ data-schema-entity=”recipe” data-slug=”polenta-chips”>
{“recipeInstructions”:[“Brush two 22 x 30cm baking pans with olive oil to lightly grease.”,”Bring the stock to the boil in a large heavy-based saucepan over medium-high heat. Use a balloon whisk to stir the stock. Gradually add the polenta in a thin steady stream, whisking constantly until all the polenta is incorporated into the stock. Reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring constantly with a wooden spoon, for 2 minutes or until mixture thickens and polenta is soft. Remove from heat and stir in the parmesan.”,”Pour the polenta evenly over the bases of the prepared pans and use the back of a spoon to smooth the surface. Cover with non-stick baking paper and set aside to cool. Place in the fridge for 4 hours or overnight to set.”,”Turn polenta onto a clean work surface. Use a sharp knife to cut off the curved edges. Cut lengthways into 2cm strips. Cut each strip into 8cm-long pieces.”,”Add enough oil to a large heavy-based saucepan to reach a depth of 6cm. Heat to 180C over high heat (when oil is ready a cube of bread will turn golden brown in 15 seconds). Add one-sixth of the polenta chips and deep-fry for 5 minutes or until golden brown. Use a slotted spoon to transfer chips to a plate lined with paper towel. Repeat, in 5 more batches, with the remaining polenta chips, reheating oil between batches.”,”Transfer polenta chips to a serving platter. Sprinkle with rosemary and season with sea salt flakes and pepper. Serve immediately.”],”recipeIngredient”:[“Olive oil, to grease”,”2L (8 cups) Massel vegetable liquid stock”,”1 x 500g pkt instant polenta (cornmeal)”,”70g (1 cup) finely grated parmesan”,”Vegetable oil, to deep-fry”,”1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary”,”Sea salt flakes & freshly ground black pepper”],”recipeCuisine”:null,”cookingMethod”:null,”cookTime”:”PT40M”,”prepTime”:”PT10M”,”totalTime”:”PT50M”,”recipeYield”:4,”nutrition”:{“calories”:null,”fatContent”:null,”saturatedFatContent”:null,”carbohydrateContent”:null,”sugarContent”:null,”fibreContent”:null,”proteinContent”:null,”cholesterolContent”:null,”sodiumContent”:null,”@context”:”http:\/\/schema.org”,”@type”:”NutritionInformation”},”aggregateRating”:{“ratingCount”:12,”ratingValue”:4.3,”@context”:”http:\/\/schema.org”,”@type”:”AggregateRating”},”recipeCategory”:null,”keywords”:”kid friendly, deep fry, vegetarian, rosemary, vegetable stock, parmesan, quick, polenta, side, side dish, sides, easy, simple, everyday, budget, cheap”,”name”:”Polenta chips”,”description”:”Move over potato chips, these golden polenta chips are the new flavour sensation in town.”,”datePublished”:”2010-01-01″,”dateCreated”:”2006-08-14″,”mainEntityOfPage”:”\/\/www.taste.com.au\/recipes\/polenta-chips\/16010c10-39a9-4b88-af12-b1cd5a3fdcd1″,”dateModified”:”2018-07-31″,”author”:{“name”:”Michelle Noerianto”,”@context”:”http:\/\/schema.org”,”@type”:”person”},”publisher”:{“name”:”taste”,”logo”:null,”@context”:”http:\/\/schema.org”,”@type”:”Organization”},”image”:{“url”:”https:\/\/img.taste.com.au\/GAnapStg\/taste\/2016\/11\/polenta-chips-4653-1.jpeg”,”width”:3000,”height”:2000,”@context”:”http:\/\/schema.org”,”@type”:”ImageObject”},”video”:{“name”:”5348771529001-5613843206001″,”description”:”5348771529001-5613843206001″,”thumbnailUrl”:”https:\/\/img.taste.com.au\/GAnapStg\/taste\/2016\/11\/polenta-chips-4653-1.jpeg”,”uploadDate”:”2017-10-17″,”url”:”https:\/\/resources.newscdn.com.au\/cs\/video\/vjs\/stable\/build\/index.html?id=5348771529001-5613843206001&=domain=taste”,”@context”:”http:\/\/schema.org”,”@type”:”VideoObject”},”@context”:”http:\/\/schema.org”,”@type”:”Recipe”}
</script>


<script type=”application/json” data-fapi-id=”16010c10-39a9-4b88-af12-b1cd5a3fdcd1″ data-schema-entity=”recipe”
data-slug=”polenta-chips” data-taste-schema>{“name”:”Polenta chips”,”image”:”https:\/\/img.taste.com.au\/GAnapStg\/taste\/2016\/11\/polenta-chips-4653-1.jpeg”,”fapiId”:”16010c10-39a9-4b88-af12-b1cd5a3fdcd1″,”schemaEntity”:”recipe”,”ingredientSections”:[{“ingredient”:”Olive oil, to grease”,”parsedIngredient”:”olive oil”},{“ingredient”:”2L (8 cups) Massel vegetable liquid stock”,”parsedIngredient”:”vegetable stock”},{“ingredient”:”1 x 500g pkt instant polenta (cornmeal)”,”parsedIngredient”:”polenta”},{“ingredient”:”70g (1 cup) finely grated parmesan”,”parsedIngredient”:”parmesan”},{“ingredient”:”Vegetable oil, to deep-fry”,”parsedIngredient”:”vegetable oil”},{“ingredient”:”1 tablespoon finely chopped fresh rosemary”,”parsedIngredient”:”rosemary”},{“ingredient”:”Sea salt flakes & freshly ground black pepper”,”parsedIngredient”:”salt and pepper”}]}</script>

DON’T PANIC. You don’t need to learn how to write this code in order to implement Structured Data. Learn all about it at https://schema.org and install a WordPress Plugin, Schema by Hesham is a good one. If you are using WooCommerce to sell products it will be marked-up automatically. 

Video Results

This Google Search Feature is not an opportunity for every website. But if you do make video and upload them to YouTube (if you use a different video host you can forget about featuring in the search results)  then you may be able to get a slot here. Search terms “tutorial,” “review, “test,” “what is..,” “how to..,”
“demonstration,” “explanation,” will often have a set of video results. Read this post by Distilled to learn more about how to SEO your video.

Part 1 in a series of Posts on The Search Landscape in 2019. Here we look at Google Search Features; Snippets, Knowledge Panel, Structured Data and more. A News and Opinion Blog Post by Online Trade Marketing.

For teenagers this a standard Google Search Results Page. But those of us carrying a certain vintage remember “10 Blue Links.” There are a number of features here other than links to external content, and a number of features added by webmasters at the behest of Google.

In 2019 many businesses need to change the way they look at Search Engine Results Page, or SERP. In a number of cases the old position 1 has been relegated to the 5th, 6th or even 7th link on the page. Organic click are falling, advert clicks are increasing, but there is hope. 

Google is changing the way that people use search and we have to adapt. We must answer questions (Featured Snippet), we must cover related topics (People Also Ask), we must clearly identify our page and it’s content (Structured Data) and produce rich new forms of content (Video Results).

I hope this post has given you all some ideas and actionable advice on how to make your website better in the coming year. Google Search Features present obstacles but also opportunities. Good luck in 2019.

In the next post, The Search Landscape in 2019 Part 2, we’ll take a look at comparison websites, a personal gripe of mine. Comparison sites, especially in the travel industry, dominate page 1 of Google for tens of thousands of search terms. They relegate business websites to page 2 and beyond leaving them with virtually zero organic clicks. I would like to see the balance redressed, I’ll talk about finding a way.


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