For the most part, I will focus on Google, however, the same information can be used in the other search engines. Google is a more advanced engine, garnering almost 90% of the search market. So getting it right will Google can drive significant amounts of targeted traffic to your website.
Search engine marketing will likely be a big part of your digital marketing plan. It’s made up of various parts, and you’ll need to devise a plan on how to take advantage of the search engine results pages.
Your strategy and what portions of the search engine results pages you target will be based on the type of content you offer, the types of business you have and your budget.
Let’s discuss the types of search engine marketing.
Types Of Search Marketing
Search Marketing is comprised of paid search and organic search. Paid search is paying to drive traffic to your website from the search engines. You will be paying a cost for each person who sees your ad and clicks on it to visit your site. Organic search is where you take advantage of the free traffic that is offered by the search engines when your site is listed for specific search terms.
Paid search and organic search are both great strategies to drive traffic and convert visitors into sales, but creating a strategy that ensures you get the most out of them will help you to get the highest ROI possible.
Search engine traffic is based on the search terms that users type into the major search engines. Before you can create a search marketing strategy, you have to first understand the intent that is behind the search terms that users type in.
Understanding The Searcher's Intent
Google shows different types of results in an attempt to give the customer exactly what they are looking for. The keywords that the searcher types in has an intent. Google Has a framework called the STDC framework in which they use to categorize the user's intent. The acronym stands for See, Think, Do, Care. Each keyword phrase can fall into each one of these categories.
Google’s STDC Framework
See if for people who have very little purchase intent, and are looking for an answer to a question or just want to see something. The types of results that are shown to that person, should really be informational including articles, rich snippets, quick answers, videos, and images.
Think is for people with some commercial intent. They may be in the information gathering and consideration stages. Some purchases could come at this stage, so the results could be mixed with ads for products, brands, paid ads, products including Google Shopping results, services pages, videos, images, featured snippets and local results.
Do is for searchers with high purchase intent. These searchers are highly likely to buy. The search results are going to be filled with products from Google Shopping, paid text ads, organic results for products, rich snippets, and local listings.
Care is about providing support for customers. It will provide results such as contact us pages, company listings, reviews, pages about warranties, refunds, faqs, and support pages.
Next, we’ll talk about paid ads.
Paid ads on Google’s Search pages can be displayed throughout the page and can include text ads, shopping ads, and business listings. These ads are paid for on a cost-per-click basis.
Before getting started with paid search ads, you should really define what your objective is, and keep it in the forefront, so you can determine if it is working for you. Do that for each campaign you create.
I suggest creating a spreadsheet that outlines the campaign type, the campaign objective, and the KPI's you will measure.
Be sure to watch and maintain your campaigns to ensure they are performing for you. Testing is critical here to find out what works and what doesn’t.
Next up, we’ll review Rich Answers.
Rich answers are generally for people who are in the See part of the funnel or framework. They are looking for a quick answer to a burning question, and it doesn’t necessarily require clicking through to your website in order to get it.
Google takes the answer to the question and displays it in a larger font at the top of the page. Now if the answer to a question requires context then those included in Rich Answers will receive higher click-thru rates and traffic for having their site listed in Rich Answers.
Optimizing for rich answers has the ability to drive more traffic to your website and the key here is writing information-rich answers to questions that your potential customers may have about your industry, products, and services.
The more concise and to the point you can be the more of a chance you will have at being listed. Being listed in rich snippets can give you a competitive advantage and garner higher click-thru rates than just being listed in the organic results.
Now we’ll cover Featured Snippets.
Featured snippets are a great way to highlight content within your website on a search engine results page. This is for the See & Think areas of the STDC framework.
Similar to Rich Answers, Featured Snippets will display content from your website in a larger font at the top of the search results page which gives you a competitive advantage and can significantly increase the click-thru rate to your page.
There are a few different types of featured snippets and they are based on how the content is formatted on your webpage. This includes:
Additionally, there is also a YouTube featured snippet that highlights a video from Youtube and the description of that video.
Next, we’ll talk about the knowledge graph carousels.
Knowledge Graph Carousels
Knowledge graphs carousels are used where definitive information about a topic can be displayed in a carousel. An example could be landmarks in Egypt. A carousel of landmarks could be displayed with photos along with the names of those landmarks so the searcher could scroll from left to right and gather information.
For the most part knowledge graphs show up in the See portion of the framework. Searchers just want to explore and see what’s out there so there is no specific answer, they are more interested in seeing possibilities.
Knowledge graph carousels are being used more and more, as they allow Google to show more information on the topic and have more of an opportunity to give the user what they're looking for.
Next is the Local Knowledge Graph Panel.
Local Knowledge Graph Panel
Local Knowledge Graph Panel usually supports the Think, Do & Care part of the framework. The Local Knowledge Graph Panel is when someone searches for your company name and they want to know more about you as a company.
This result will bring up local locations such as addresses and phone numbers. It will display a photo of your building or headquarters if available.
Your business rating will display along with the ability to obtain directions. User-submitted photos along with photos you’ve uploaded in Google My Business will be displayed for review.
Alternatively, those who are not within driving distance of your business may see your brand information such as your logo and how to reach you on the various social channels such as Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram & Twitter.
Up next is the local pack results.
Local Pack Results
Google knows when searchers are looking for local businesses and that is called local intent. Including words such as “near me” or using locations such as city names means they're looking for a local business. When these types of terms are included in the search query, Google returns business listings from Google My Business.
These business listings include your company name, address, a view of where you are on the map, business rating, customer reviews, a link to your website, and a link to get directions. Now depending on the type of business you have can alter the types of information displayed. For example, if you own a restaurant and you offer Opentable, then a link to make a reservation may show. If you have your menu online then your menu may become available.
In order to take advantage of Local Pack results, you do have to have a physical location. Fully online businesses can’t be listed, as there is nowhere to visit.
Businesses who don’t have a website can also take advantage of the Local Pack Results by signing up and optimizing their Google My Business page. In fact, Google My Business offers a lot of options including web pages, posts to keep followers informed, the ability to upload photos and more.
Finally, we’re going to talk about organic search results.
Organic Search Results
Organic search results are the text-based results located in the middle of the search engine results pages. Rankings in the organic search results have many different factors including the depth and breadth of your content, the number of backlinks you have to your site and specific pages, whether those links come from other authoritative sites, etc. Organic search results are a long-term game plan as it takes optimization of your site’s code, ensuring that your site’s page speed is primed, that you have enough content around a topic, and how valuable users find that content.
The days of just wanting to be listed in the top ten of Google search results are gone, With all the other options available, these text-based organic listings shouldn’t be all that you care about as there are many other opportunities that are now displayed well above the organic text results that can drive a large amount of traffic to your site.
It takes creating good quality content and utilizing structured data but can give you a significant competitive advantage over your competitors by optimizing your site for the other options we’ve discussed.