Why We Need to Start Talking "Share of SERP"

By Sean Martin | Growth Marketing Manager at Directive Consulting

If you’ve been keeping an eye on recent digital marketing trends, you’ve probably heard of omni-channel. You may think of it as the future of digital marketing.

Or, you might think of it as the fanciest new way to burn your money and grey your hair.

There is a strange taboo association with omni-channel marketing strategies. Optimizers can’t decide whether it is the only appropriate way to target and engage universal searchers – or if it’s just a wild goose chase. But, the truth is, most omni-channel campaigns fail because they’re set up incorrectly.

tripping

Omni-channel as a strategy usually fails because agencies launch campaigns from siloed departments. The marketing team have their goals, the sales team have their own, and technical optimizers get free reign on keyword selection/goals.

This is why, when push comes to shove, omni-channel optimization often times does not yield actual growth or revenue. Blind optimization isn’t making anybody money. And neither are department silos.

Instead of approaching universal search with the omni-channel mentality (targeting each vertical and channel as its own funnel) start looking at your entire digital presence as a single, interconnected content web.

It's all connected

It’s time we stop thinking of content as discreet posts to rank on page one of the Google SERP.

We don’t need “omni” – we need “comprehensive.” It’s time we start talking about “Share of SERP.”

Share of SERP - Omni Channel

What Is Share of SERP?

Quick Answer:  How much market share your brand can take up on a single SERP (search engine results page).

Let’s take a look at where this comes from, and why it’s important.

Market Share/Share of Voice

In the old days, advertisers would fight for space on potentially revenue-generating placements. If you had a successful website or blog (or billboard) your publications were considered high value placements.

Let’s imagine that you have 4 different agencies willing to pay you to advertise on your blog. If you divide the space equally, each of these agencies would be given 25% of the advertising real estate your site has to offer.

This would be considered each ad’s “share of voice.” When voicing and promoting their product to the customer, they have 25% of the voice (or share) of that page.

Share of Voice

Now skip forward a couple decades. Advertising has gone digital.

We could probably call the SERP the “billboard” of modern digital consumerism. Search is the center of the digital market after all.

If you look at any given SERP, you’ll see that it has many different types of links. You have paid ads, local map results, review sites, news updates, and organically ranked publications or business pages. How many links you can get on a single SERP – in each of these link types – is your market share.

SERP breakdown analysis

But be careful, Google and its recent updates are performing some black magic on our market share.

The Incredible Shrinking SERP

Two years ago, if you were to publish a relevant, keyword oriented, optimized and well-linked post – it was only a matter of competition, time, and traffic until you were on page one.

We search marketers like to take it one step further and aim for the number one rank on the number one page as well. Or at least top 5.

Percent of traffic by Google result

The logic behind it is simple: the vast majority of clicks and traffic go to the top 5 links. Ranking in the top 5 was guaranteed to get your post above-the-fold on page 1 of the SERP – where it would generate massive boosts in traffic.

But let’s look at a SERP from 2014 and a SERP from today.

SERP comparison 2014 vs today

The New SERP (left) and Old SERP (right)

You can see some differences, huh?

Where the #1 ranked organic link used to put you at the top of the SERP, it’s now the number eight clickable link. You’re below four paid ads, three map results, and usually a Yelp review. You’ve been bumped down to below-the-fold!

Page engagement and SERP position

This is what Share of SERP attempts to solve.

Instead of focusing (or isolating) your campaigns to only generate business links that rank, start producing content that ranks for each type of link on the SERP.

Start developing content that will rank for the link types that show up above-the-fold on SERP page 1.

WHY Do We Need Share of SERP?

While ranking on the first page of Google is always going to help, it’s not the only way to engage with online users.

So, why do we need share of SERP?

Quick Answer: SERPs are more comprehensive and universal. But this isn’t because Google wants to make it hard for you. It’s because Google wants to adapt to a more universal and omni-channel search user. The more universal and mobile search becomes, the more Google has to adapt to how people use search engines to find the answers they are searching.

Life finds a way

And the more Google changes to adapt for universal searchers, the more comprehensive our search campaigns need to be.

Universal Searchers

Let’s ask some basic questions.

When you are on a Google search, do you only click business links? Or do you peruse the different reviews, blog posts, news updates, and social posts to find what seems to be the most relevant answer to your query?

I thought as much 😉

Google Universal Search explained

The truth is that – when it comes to information – search users are quite adept at considering different mediums, platforms, and sources. They know what channels provide them the most relevant answers. Keep in mind that relevancy is specific to each individual user. Who they are, what they’re looking for, and where they are in the buyer’s journey all affect what they click.

Don’t just target late-stage buyers or preliminary researchers on Google. Cast a web that catches all your different level leads by posting content that supports more universal search behavior.

The more share of SERP you monopolize, the more mental market share you will occupy in your ideal user’s mind.

If you can start to monopolize the SERPs of all your primary keywords, you can (ideally) get to the point that no searcher can even think “B2B” without thinking “Directive Consulting.”

Now that’s some brand force. You aren’t just generating demand anymore – you’re supplying demand that generates leads.

Side Note: Knowledge Graph

I could write a series of eBooks each dedicated to optimizing for the new Google Knowledge Graph. But those are writing assignments for another day.

All you really need to know is that optimizing for more universal search practices and more social engagement will also prime your publications for ranking in the Google Knowledge Graph.

Google it

The K. Graph prioritizes relevancy, search intent, search context, internal linking structure, and social engagements. If you can impress and rank in the K. Graph, you’re already on your way to massive spikes in mental market share and Share of SERP.

HOW Can We Target More Share of SERP?

We know we need to take up more mental market share in the minds of our ideal users. We also know that we need to target users at different points in the buyer’s journey by targeting different types of links.

Targeting different links

We know the what and the why – but where’s the how?

How do we target more share of SERP?

Quick Answer: Start optimizing the different channels of your marketing campaigns and  targeting more diverse links on page 1 of the SERP.

Google Pages

Let’s start with the obvious. Google prefers its own platforms and tools, so you should obviously be optimizing your Google pages.

This means you are providing any and all necessary info on:

  • Google + My Business
  • Locations Pages on Google Maps
  • Make sure any Wikidata is accurate and optimized (the K. Graph pulls a lot of data from Wikipedia and Wikidata so make sure you have a branded wiki page)

Wikidata

Review Sites

Review sites aren’t going anywhere anytime soon. Whether you are a local coffee shop or a Fortune 5000 Ad Agency working in the NY Financial District, reviews can make or break your business.

Yelp reviews by month

Make sure that you follow these best practices for optimizing reviews:

  • Make a branded Yelp Page – this will help you track and control your reviews and promotions
  • Respond to negative reviews fast – be quick to fix the solution and take responsibility. This can help turn unpleased users into brand advocates after great customer service.
  • Respond to any and all comments on any posts you have – network and nurture your thought leadership and help any engaged users
  • Encourage user testimonials with exchange offers and post-service surveys for satisfied customers
  • If you can – insert the “5 start review” widget into your SEO snippets to show off your reviews on your links

Favorite links widget WordPress plugin

And let’s be clear – these are only 2 of the many diverse link types that you need to be targeting on the SERP.

Takeaways

As we’ve discussed, there’s more than one way to get your brand on to the first page of Google.

It also matters that you diversify what pages and posts rank on the first page of the SERP.

To target more universal search users you need to use more universal/comprehensive search campaigns. It’s as simple as that.

Don’t be distracted by the Red Herring or Golden Goose that we call “omni-channel.”  Omni-channel fails because it considers each channel as an individual, siloed funnel.  Instead, we need to build comprehensive search campaigns from the bottom up that focus on targeting universal searchers and building links/content that generate leads not just vague traffic.

Generating more leads

Start building your mental market share and targeting more share of SERP to universalize your brand and your rankings.

Trust me, the thicker and wider the web – the better. If you build it they will come.

(the leads, that is).

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