Is search engine optimization (SEO) still important? What role does voice search (Siri, Google, Cortana) play today? In this episode, Chris Casale and Ryan Smith break down the first pillar of digital marketing – search, where they discuss why search is still relevant, the many facets of search, and how you can help your business get found.
Chris Casale: [00:02:05] A few months ago, we had the opportunity to have Neil Schaffer on the podcast, and that was a great interview. Definitely recommend you go back and check that episode out, The Age of Influence with Neal Schaffer. But one of the things that he talked about with us is the three pillars of digital marketing.
And a few weeks after that episode, Ryan and I recorded a podcast dedicated to those three pillars. Well, thanks to your feedback on social media, we found that that really resonated and that our listeners really wanted to hear more about that. So this is the first part of a three-episode series where we’re breaking down those Three Pillars of Digital Marketing.
And today we’re starting with search. Now, Ryan, search is dead, so why would we start there?
Ryan Smith: [00:02:42] You know, it’s funny to hear that, especially with the SEO world, yet everybody continues to do searches. Now you see it more on your phone maybe than your traditional desktop or laptop. But as long as there has been a Google search engine, we understand it’s not the only search engine but it is the most popular, there has always been the importance for optimizing your content in your website for search.
It is as important today as it’s ever been. So what is search? Search comes in a variety of ways.
If you think back to early on, the first thing people think of is just the keywords, right? You put some keywords in and then it comes up. Whatever you’re searching for specifically back in the day, it had to be an exact match. If you got a word wrong, the kind of through all of your results was off because of that keywords is still a very important part of this.
Now, it’s not the only thing that is important. Google has gotten smarter. So it’s not just an exact match keyword phrases anymore. Along came Rank Brain. So really, just to dive in real quick at a very high level Rank Brain is just an A.I. algorithm that Google uses to sort through its search results.
Basically, Google can better understand what you’re saying and understands synonyms. And one way to test this, and you’ve seen this on yourself if you’ve ever made a typo when you’re doing a Google search and then right underneath in the search results at the very top Google states, ‘did you mean dot, dot, dot,’ or whatever it is that you’re trying to search for, that lets you know and most of the time it gets it right.
I’d say probably 99% of the time it gets ‘Did you mean’ that criteria correct. That’s Rank Brain.
That’s what Google has learned and is becoming a lot smarter. So you have to think about that as well. So the days of just that exact match, those are gone. Google better understands synonyms and it’s slowly getting better at understanding context.
Chris Casale: [00:04:35] Yeah, and I think that’s important because over time with search, we’ve moved away from that exact match on keywords to things that are sort of similar and fit those synonyms. As you mentioned, however, there’s still some value in the keywords that you choose for the content you’re producing. And what I mean by that is in the United States, we call it a bar. That’s where we go to have our happy hours.
But in the United Kingdom, it’s called a pub. And even though bar and pub can be used synonymously and changed out very easily, the type of language you use is also directed at the audience that you’re trying to attract. And Google knows that. So that can help influence the search results there.
Another example we like to use with that is the term soccer versus football. Well, in the United States football means something very different than it does to the rest of the world. And so knowing that when you’re designing your keyword phrases is very important because it’s looking at the context of the content that you’re building. And when somebody’s searching, it’s trying to match that general search phrase with relevant content for the audience it’s attempting to reach.
How does voice search factor into SEO?
Ryan Smith: [00:05:40] Additionally, when it comes to search, voice search has become bigger now than it ever has been and it will continue to increase as we move forward. So, again, is Google becoming smarter? Absolutely.
When you’re using the Google Assistant in the Google app or if you’re using Siri for search, that is something that all of these search engines are learning along. So you have your traditional keyword search, you have your voice search, additional types of searches that Google, for example, will do is in your Google Images and even through Google Maps.
So if you’ve ever heard this phrase that SEO is dead, stay away from those people. They don’t know what they’re talking about. SEO has evolved as we’ve talked about in the past, but the fact that you don’t have to optimize for search engines is completely false. And if anything, you have to continue to optimize more, but you might have to evolve as Google has evolved.
So to clarify again, when it comes to Google:
- it’s smarter,
- it better understands synonyms,
- it better understands context,
- and it can perform those different searches to voice through traditional keywords as well as through Google Images and through Google Maps.
Chris Casale: [00:06:52] Part of the reason search is a key pillar in digital marketing is because of the way people consume information and make purchasing decisions.
The average buyer consults 5.1 sources of information along their path to purchase.
– TrustRadius, The 2020 B2B Buying Disconnect Report.
Chris Casale: [00:07:16] Now, I actually think that number is a little bit low. I think most of us consult more than five pieces of information when we’re trying to make a buying decision.
Naturally, the purchase or the amount of information we consume is based on the dollar amount that’s attached to the purchase. Right. If we’re buying something very, very large, very, very expensive, something that maybe we even have to finance over time, you’re going to consult a lot of information to make sure that you’re making the right choice.
If it’s something less expensive, that might be sort of a whim purchase, right. If you’re if you’re in the convenience store and you’re looking for a soda, then you’re not going to consult information. You’re just going to pick the one that’s right in front of you or the one that you’re most familiar with. Right. Making sure that your content is properly indexed in the search engines.
And that’s what Ryan’s talking about there when he says evolving it to make sure that, you know, you’re not looking for exact match on keywords, but you’re making sure that you’re showing up for the relevant audiences in the relevant terms so that when individuals are doing those searches, the information that you’re presenting becomes one of the pieces of information they consume while they’re on that buyer’s journey, and hopefully, if it’s done properly, will help influence them and their decision-making.
Ryan Smith: [00:08:28] So we talked a lot about sort of how the keywords have evolved, but understanding what people are saying and what they’re typing in to get to your website is still important. Several years ago, Google removed the ability to see what keywords users were typing in to get to your website. So if you go into today Google Analytics, you go to organic, and you try to look at…it’s going to say (not set), which basically means you have no clue what they’re saying.
However, there’s one other property, Google related, that you can actually see the keywords that people are typing in, and that’s Google Search Console. So do a Google search for Search Console and you’ll find it. It used to be called Webmaster Tools because it was dedicated more to webmasters and as Google evolves in how it searches and ranks and keywords, so has some of their tools.
So they rebranded Webmaster Tools, called Search Console. It’s very powerful and it should be part of the tools that you look at on a daily, weekly, monthly basis to understand where your web, the health of your website and what types of keywords people are searching for. So they won’t say keywords in Search Console, it will say queries, and you can find out the different types of queries that people are searching for, so it’ll give you the impressions.
So basically it means if your Web page ranked for certain query now, it doesn’t mean it’s on the first page. It could be on the ninth page, but it gives you an idea if Google is serving your content up at some point. I highly recommend, if you haven’t been there, go to Search Console, see what pages are ranking.
If they’re even being served up, it’ll give you an idea if they’re getting clicks on there. So you’ll have an idea what your click-through rate (CTR) is. Organic click-through rates (CTR) is an indicator.
It is a signal for Google, so that is something you would like to see up there and obviously the higher you rank organically anyway, the chances are you’re going to have a high click through rates, but you definitely want to have a higher click through rates and Search Console will give you that information. So I kind of wanted to go there because it’s the last tool that Google will give you where you can have the keywords.
Now, there are other keyword tools. There’s SEMrush. There’s other tools that you can find there’s Ubersuggest, they’ll give you kind of an idea of the keywords that are out there, but just from a Google property, this is probably the last one. And who knows, eventually they might even remove that. We just don’t know. But for now, you have the ability to see what keywords people are typing in to get to your website.
76 percent of people who search on their smartphones for something nearby visit a business within a day.
Source: (Think With Google)
Chris Casale: [00:17:31] 76% of people who search for something on their smartphone for something that’s a nearby visit, that local business within one day of their search. And that’s not necessarily a surprising number, but it’s definitely an impressive one, 76 percent. So even if you’re running a local brick and mortar location, you want to make sure that you’re properly positioned in the search engines so that you’re found when individuals are doing these searches so that they will come to your location. It really emphasizes the importance of that local search, which really means local content, local relevant content for the individuals that live, work and play in the area that you’re looking to do business in.
Ryan Smith: [00:18:16] And that’s a great stat that was provided by Google. So a lot of research has gone into that. And it is important, again, why you need to optimize for search and it just goes beyond keywords. It’s also the different various platforms that you need to optimize for. So if it feels like we’re hammering this home over again, well, it’s because we are. And it’s important that you recognize the different areas that you do need to optimize. So we’re beyond just optimizing for page titles and your H1 tags on your website.
Additional Search Marketing Stats
- 93 percent of U.S. traffic comes from Google search, Google Images, and Google Maps.
- SEO drives 1000%+ more traffic than organic social media.
- On average, ranking in position #1 on mobile gets you 27.7% of the clicks, whereas ranking in position #1 on desktop gets you 19.3% of the clicks.
- Websites with strong domain authority tend to rank well in voice search. In fact, the average domain rating of a Google Home result is 76.8.
What’s one takeaway everyone should get from this post?
Chris Casale: [00:26:44] I’m actually going to give you two takeaways. And the first one is search is absolutely not dead. So if you’ve heard that before, throw that idea out.
But the second is, you know, again, when we talk about search, it’s all about authenticity. It’s about being genuine. We’re not talking about gaming the search engines to rank better.
We’re talking about producing content, any form of content that is valuable to your audience that will allow you to get found for the key phrases that you’re looking for. And that will be across Google Maps. It’ll will be across Google Images. It’ll be on, you know, your search, your social platforms, all of that stuff. So maintain that authenticity through everything that you do.
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