Retailers Must Embrace Google’s Universal Search to Get on Page One
Getting onto Google’s first page for important search terms is a necessary goal for retail brands. However, it’s getting even harder as Google now shows fewer organic links on page one for retail searches. Instead of the traditional 10 blue links, Searchmetrics’ analysis of thousands of retail results on Google indicates the search engine now displays, on average, 8.9 links on the first page on desktop and 9.1 links on mobile.
More page one space is now taken by universal search box-outs such as Knowledge Graphs, images, mobile app packs and Product Listing Ads, which catch the eye and attract high clickthroughs. Based on Searchmetrics’ study, here are five insights to help retailers target universal search appearances:
1. Knowledge Graphs: Use well-structured content and encourage reviews.
Knowledge Graph boxes appear above or to the right of traditional results, providing popular facts, images and links about people, organizations and places. They are shown for around a third of retail searches (31 percent on mobile, 34 percent on desktop), so they’re a significant opportunity.
Google pulls the information included in Knowledge Graphs from Wikipedia, and sometimes a brand’s own website, Google+ page or Google MyBusiness listing. Links to a company’s social channels and contact details may also be included.
To have a chance of appearing in a Knowledge Graph, you must maintain an up-to-date, active presence on these sites with high-quality, relevant information. Well-structured content with headings and bullets is more likely to be used. Furthermore, encourage customer ratings and reviews since they often appear in Knowledge Graphs.
2. Images: Optimize sizes and file names.
Some 20 percent of mobile and 25 percent desktop retail-related searches include at least one image box on page one. To optimize for these, use high-quality pictures, making sure image file names, titles and alt attributes include words that are relevant to the topics being displayed. File sizes should not be too big; this slows down page speeds, which Google disapproves of.
3. News: Build relationships with key media.
Around 16 percent of retail searches on mobile and 18 percent on desktop trigger news results on page one. Retailers must recognize that they face competition in search not only from other retailers, but also online publications and blogs that provide retail industry insight. Build relations with key media and send them your interesting news and information to have a chance of appearing in news results.
4. App packs: Encourage App Store Optimization and positive user evaluations.
Ten percent of retail-related searches on mobile feature at least one App Pack box suggesting one or more relevant apps. Having your brand appear here can increase app installs and encourage searchers into a retailer’s app. To improve the chances of inclusion, follow App Store Optimization (ASO) techniques, such as using relevant keywords in App Store titles and descriptions. A greater frequency of app installs and positive user evaluations boost the chance of App Pack appearances.
5. Google Shopping: Participate or lose out.
Product Listing Ads (PLAs), which are part of Google Shopping, now appear in nearly half (46 percent) of retail-related searches on mobile (21 percent on desktop), allowing searchers to slide through a variety of relevant products. On mobile especially, it’s important to participate, because the presence of PLAs at the top of the page squeezes out organic results on small screens. So if competitors are there and you’re not, you may lose traffic and sales.
All of these recommendations help retailers appear on page one outside of traditional organic links.
Cliff Edwards is director of marketing and communications at Searchmetrics, an enterprise SEO and content marketing platform.