More and more keywords are becoming less and less profitable these days. That’s because 61.8 percent of search results in Google are now zero-search results, according to data from Jumpshot. Plus, Google’s always tinkering around with SEO. So, what do you do?
According to Entrepreneur, in 2020 and beyond you have to figure out on-SERP SEO to gain a huge competitive edge.
What’s on-SERP SEO?
SERP is short for Search Engine Results Page: the page (or pages) you see when you search for something in Google. You type your question into the Google search box, look at the results that Google returns, and then pick the one that is most likely to address what you want to find out. The main component of the SERP is the listing of results that are returned by the search engine in response to a keyword query, although the pages may also contain other results such as advertisements.
Sometimes there are automatic snippets that come with the Google SERP results. These snippets may prevent a searcher from scrolling down to see more results. While the automatic snippet sometimes comes from a website that ranks somewhere on page 1 of the SERP, companies are unsure how to optimize their content so that Google chooses them over anyone vying for the same on-SERP SEO spot. Needless to say, this is a concerning development for any business that markets or advertises on Google.
Search Engine Journal says that, “Page 1 on Google is changing. Organic search results are now competing for the user’s attention with paid ads, knowledge panels, maps, videos, featured snippets, and the like. The phenomenon of so-called ‘position zero’ elements is now dominating Google’s “above the fold” sending organic Position 1 down and closer to the Page 2 grave.”
How to effectively tap into on-SERP SEO
On-SERP SEO requires a paradigm shift for SEO professionals (or anyone using SEO). You need to use on-SERP SEO (the work of optimizing the entire Page 1) to stay competitive against position zero SERPs. The goal is to take up as much real estate on Page 1 as possible, thus increasing CTR (click-through rate) and generating more organic traffic than your competitors.
When doing your keyword research, defining your target pages and selecting target search terms, there’s one important mindset shift to make to future-proof your SEO strategy: Factor in the new SERP reality.
In traditional SEO analysis, you’re used to reviewing:
- Search terms
- Monthly search volumes
- Keyword difficulty
Today, however, with on-SERP SEO, you must adapt your efforts to also factor in:
- The presence of featured snippets
- Other media elements
- Decreased CTR for organic results
Therefore, you must now include CTR into your keyword research and decision making.
You should start basing your analyses on this click potential, rather than monthly search volume alone. Only then will you receive the best CTR and true organic traffic gains for the content you create. By reviewing the true click potential, you will filter for keywords where a good organic ranking still equates to viable search traffic opportunities and use on-SERP SEO to stay competitive against position zero SERPs.
Six ways to optimize your website in competitive SERPs
- Optimize your top 10 ranking keywords to win a featured snippet. So, the first step is to check your current organic rankings (through Ahrefs or SEMrush) and determine which of those keywords already displays a featured snippet. Those will identify your target keywords and target pages to optimize for featured snippets. Your second step is to note what kind of featured snippet (lists, tables, text or video) is displayed for each of your target keywords.
- Optimize for Google sitelinks. Sitelinks increase the visual space of your search results by displaying the most important pages of your website directly within your search result.
- Add schema markup when appropriate. Product, business, and review schema markup help Google to understand what your pages and content are about.
- Use and optimize Google My Business. This will help you engage with customers, completely optimize your listing on Google, and help your presence on Google Maps…all for free. Make sure to collect and answer questions on your listing. This will add valuable length to your listing.
- Optimize social media channels to appear in Google’s knowledge panels. Connecting your social media channels will provide more opportunities for the user to click on a search element that you own and control. Note that your social profiles need to be verified with Google in order to be displayed.
- Optimize images to appear in SERPs and featured snippets (12.5 percent of all SERPs display images). Proceed with some basic image SEO to increase the chances of your relevant images ranking.
Staying ahead of the competition
At the end of the day, keeping up with on-SERP SEO trends, and perhaps attempting to win a featured snippet or two, likely puts you way ahead of your competition. And if you can become an expert at on-SERP SEO and make getting featured snippets like second nature, you’ll be reaping huge rewards in the future.