How Understanding Search Queries Can Elevate Your SEO Strategy
Oktawiusz Skrzek (SEO Manager) and Tim Butler (CEO) at Innovation Visual discuss the evolution of SEO, its critical role in the achievement of business objectives and how digital marketers can leverage developments to generate sales and better serve their customers.
Recorded in September 2019, their discussion includes the following:
- How Google is building on the way that it understands user's intent.
- How Google’s focus is moving towards local.
- The relevance of voice search – does it apply to your business?
- How to deliver on your featured snippets strategy.
For more thought leadership and advice on how you can make your next digital campaign a success, be sure to check out our latest digital marketing insights.
-- Today, I'm with Oktawiusz, who's our SEO manager. We're sitting down and want to have a conversation about latest trends in SEO. So, we've just been having a chat about what you see coming up and what you're looking forward to. You're off to BrightonSEO at the end of this week, but you've been doing a lot of research on the latest trends in SEO recently. What are you seeing coming around the corner and what should digital marketers be thinking of at the moment?
- As far as I understand, the trends are going to be about understanding the queries, understanding the search, and understanding how to optimise for these queries. Things like voice search, the share of rich snippets, understanding how to optimise for. That kind of thing.
- So let's break that down. You start off with talking about understanding intent.
- And then going on to voice and then looking at things like rich snippets. So in terms of intent obviously there's been a lot talk about how Google's natural language processing has increased a lot in recent years.
- What are you seeing in terms of understanding and how digital marketers should be working on intent behind searches?
- So when you have got a client and you target a specific number, a specific set of keywords for that client. You should understand what each keyword stands for when people are searching for it. For example, that client , their dream would be ranking number one for 'intranet' as a keyword.
- It's hard to actually rank for this term because when you search 'Intranet', in Google UK, you get a number of results. It's not like 5 or 6, it's tonnes fo results of links to landing pages on websites. They aren't telling you about what 'Intranet' is. Maybe the first one or the second one is from Wikipedia which says what the term Intranet is all about and what it is. But most of the links you will see in Google search results in the UK for this term will be linking back to pages from universities, big enterprises, companies relating to their own intranet login pages.
- So what you're saying whilst people might look at the intranet keyword in terms of its high level of volume and think, "Ah that would be a great keyword to rank for an ideal intranet. The intent behind the word intranet is actually quite poor in terms of a business fit for people that are looking to buy a new intranet because most of the results coming through are for actual for logins for existing intranets.
- Yep, and this is how Google understands this specific query.
- Right so Google is understanding the intent and knowing if you just type in 'intranet', it's thinking along the lines of login. So that's where we should be helping clients understand about more granular keywords, which actually have a better search intent behind them. In terms of what you've been saying about voice search, I mean we've been talking about voice search for a number of years now at Innovation Visual. Where are you seeing voice search at the moment in terms of its importance?
- So in countries like the US and the UK, I think its getting more and more important because those countries primarily use English as a search language, and Google understanding English best. But at the same time I think it's going to be more and more important in the future around other countries, in other languages, like Poland, where Ilive for example.
- So, Google's focus is likely to be mostly about local search first of all and we saw that happening for like two or three years when we started discussing this with clients. So I think that the local focus is going to be the most important one for Google initially.
- Okay, so it's interesting you talk about that because when I talk to people about voice, there's the Comscore prediction that's been battered around now for more than two years that's 50% of all searches will be done by voice by 2020, but the push back I get is, "Yeah okay maybe but it's all local stuff, it's not relevant to me." Is voice search relevant to all businesses or is it only businesses that are operating locally? What's your your take on that?
- I wouldn't say that thinking about voice search needs to be only done, performed from the business perspective. But if we are going to talk about business, I don't think this is only going to be about local. It's about how can they get most out of Google voice search when optimising their websites, because it's not only about local it's also about things like featured snippets and visibility. For example, people are asking questions to Google like, "How can I do x? How can I buy x? How can I get to x?" and if your website is well-optimised for this kind of question, then you can rank in the results for the search.
- So you talk about an interesting thing there - featured snippets. Not everybody in digital marketing understands featured snippets, and also you talked about the structured information on the search results page. Could you just give us a brief definition of featured snippets and where they come from?
- So featured snippets are the snippets of content that you can see within the top 10 Google search results. They are not Google ads, links, Google search ads or shopping ads they are something else. The data for these featured snippets, for these rich snippets is being sourced from different places. Could be Wikipedia, it could be weather.com, it all depends on what Google thinks the question is and which website it thinks answers it best.
- So, we've actually helped some of our clients get featured snippets on the search results page. You've explained that these featured snippets, they're in addition to the organic results and ads and these featured snippets are what's being read out by the voice search results. So, given that you've helped some of our clients get featured snippet results, what would you say would be the key learnings for people in digital marketing, if they want to optimise and get featured snippets for themselves?
- It's about content optimisation. So there are some specific ways of optimising your featured snippet content, used directly from your website within Google search results. Like answering the question in the first paragraph of the page body content. Having the keywords in the right places around your first paragraph and the title of your blog and stuff like that. There are other types of featured snippets, for example recipes.
- So basically it's good practise SEO. But it's also making sure that we get the right keywords that we're targeting in the right phrase. Also, that we're targeting the right places, particularly around that first paragraph. And you're saying where these featured snippets are a result of a question, making sure that that question is being well-answered in that first paragraph.
- That is correct, yeah.
- So that then it's easy for Google to pick that up.
- And answered clearly as well.
- Okay, so good clear written English.
- Yeah. Yeah.
- Okay, that's really good. So in terms of where we are, you're over in the UK this week and you're going to BrightonSEO and I know that you always like attending BrightonSEO and events like that. So tell me, at the moment, what are you most excited about in digital marketing and particularly SEO?
- It's not about this moment. It's about the whole thing because it's still evolving, you still need to learn, you still need to be up to date on the different trends on like Google algorithm updates. You still need to react in a proper manner at the right time. So I think the challenging way you need to manage your SEO is the most fun for me.