The rise in search engine use by the average person lead to an explosion in visibility for small businesses. These businesses may not have been able to compete for customer attention through traditional media and advertising.
Changes to Google’s search algorithm have made practices that raise search engine visibility all the more important. Because of Google, we all now care about HTMLs security, mobile-friendliness, and creating quality content. Heck, if it weren’t for Google, most of us in the Atlanta internet marketing industry would be out of a job.
But are the opportunities Google has created staying the same? Or are they shrinking?
Recent changes to Google’s main SERP page have left less space for organic results than ever, especially on mobile. In addition, Google services like knowledge graph results are turning a high number of searches into dead ends rather than opportunities for creating brand awareness.
According to research from Rand Fishkin at Moz, working in tandem with Jumpshot, these issues have, in fact, impacted the volume of opportunities for SEO to lead to revenue. And while the shrinking SEO space is partially countered by growth in search volume overall, businesses still have some cause for concern that getting discovered through search will soon get harder rather than easier.
Google Traffic Analysis Reveals Increase in Search Volume, Decline in Clicks
The data Fishkin looked at indisputably revealed that the overall volume of Google searches was rising. These gains occurred on both desktop and mobile. Seasonality was a big factor on search volume from November of 2015 to October of this year, but year-over-year the overall increase from 2016 to 2017 was 13.4% — nothing to sneeze at!
Search data looked less promising as Fishkin examined the total volume of clickthroughs from SERPs. Clicks have declined overall, even when accounting for seasonality. Thankfully for SEO pundits, organic clicks remain in the overwhelming majority compared to paid ads.
Not content with the incomplete picture revealed, Fishkin decided to look at the amount of clicks per every 10 searches. Here, at last, we see our smoking gun.
Clickthroughs took a steep jump downward on October 2016, the same month we noted that the quantity of organic search results on mobile declined. Overall clickthroughs per 10 searches slumped 23% from November 2015 to October 2017. That’s quite a steep drop!
Fishkens click rate per 10 searches graph also mirrors his graph showing jumps in the volume of “no click” searches during the same period. Clearly, Google’s embedded features like their knowledge graph and answer box have negated the need for people to click on mobile search results to find the information they wanted.
The changes don’t seem to have affected desktop nearly as much, but mobile searches make up the majority of search volume.
How to Adjust to Slimmer SEO Opportunities
There are a number of ways to cope with the loss of SEO opportunities:
- Supplement your SEO with PPC ads
- Focus on implementing Schema markup so that your results can use rich snippets and show up on featured snippets
- Focus on desktop users, which are still important sources of traffic and lead gen
- Optimize your SERPs appearances so that you have a higher chance at a solid CTR
- Curl up under your desk and cry for a bit, but then realize that there are still plenty of opportunities to be had
The key to remember is that the SEO opportunities have gotten smaller, but that doesn’t mean they’re small. As long as you keep up with best practices, you still have a solid fighting chance at earning prominent spots and clicks that lead to revenue.
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