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SearchLove London 2017 | Rob Bucci | Reverse-Engineering Google's Research on What Searchers are Looking for

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The SERP is the front-end to Google's multibillion dollar consumer research machine. They know what searchers want. In this data-heavy talk, Rob will teach you how to uncover what Google already knows about what web searchers are looking for. Using this knowledge, you can deliver the right content to the right searchers at the right time, every time.

Published in: Marketing

SearchLove London 2017 | Rob Bucci | Reverse-Engineering Google's Research on What Searchers are Looking for

  1. 1. REVERSE-ENGINEERING GOOGLE’S RESEARCH How to target the right content to the right customers at the right time.
  2. 2. @STATrob #SearchLove
  3. 3. DO YOU REMEMBER THE NAME OF THE ACTOR FROM THAT SCIFI MOVIE WITH THE SHORT OLD GUY WITH WEIRD EARS? @STATrob
  4. 4. REMEMBER BEFORE GOOGLE? How did you get the answers you needed? @STATrob
  5. 5. INSTANT GRATIFICATION IS THE NAME OF THE GAME FOR GOOGLE. Their goal is to give you the answers you need. Fast. @STATrob
  6. 6. THEY’VE CHANGED THE WORLD. And they’ve changed human behaviour. @STATrob
  7. 7. [NAME OF BAD GUY 
 FROM HUDSON HAWK] Google isn’t good at this query. They totally suck, right? @STATrob
  8. 8. GOOGLE IS A VICTIM OF 
 THEIR OWN SUCCESS. They have changed our expectations for information retrieval and they have to adapt to those changes. @STATrob
  9. 9. GOOGLE IS CHANGING THE RULES. BUT, THEY ALSO HAVE TO PLAY BY THE NEW RULES. @STATrob
  10. 10. IT’S LIKE A GIANT DRAWING A MAP WHILE ITS FOOTSTEPS ALTER THE LANDSCAPE. @STATrob
  11. 11. SERPS ARE THE FRONTEND TO GOOGLE’S MULTI-BILLION-DOLLAR CONSUMER RESEARCH MACHINE. @STATrob
  12. 12. BY PAYING ATTENTION TO THE SERPS, WE CAN SNOOP ON GOOGLE’S RESEARCH. And we can learn what our customers are 
 looking for when they search for something. @STATrob
  13. 13. LET’S TALK INTENT. @STATrob
  14. 14. CONSUMER SEARCH INTENT. There are three key stages of search intent 
 when making consumer searches online. @STATrob
  15. 15. THE INFORMATIONAL STAGE IS THE START OF THE PATH TO PURCHASE. @STATrob
  16. 16. AT EACH STAGE OF THE FUNNEL, THE SEARCHER HAS A DIFFERENT INTENT. @STATrob
  17. 17. “…demographics don't help us understand what we really need to know — what consumers are looking for in an exact moment or where they are looking to find it.” THINK WITH GOOGLE @STATrob
  18. 18. SEARCHER INTENT IS THE NEW DEMOGRAPHICS. @STATrob
  19. 19. INTENT BEATS IDENTITY. IMMEDIACY BEATS LOYALTY. In order to be where the searcher is looking, we need to understand their intent. @STATrob
  20. 20. THE RESEARCH @STATrob
  21. 21. 14 PRODUCT CATEGORIES, 
 542 QUERIES: • Music (40 core queries) • Computers (42 core queries) • Sports & outdoors (38 core queries) • And so on. @STATrob
  22. 22. EXAMPLE KEYWORD MODIFICATIONS APPLIANCES ELECTRONICS PET SUPPLIES INFORMATIONAL blender lcd tv cat brush COMMERCIAL blender reviews best lcd tv compare cat brushes TRANSACTIONAL buy blender lcd tv free shipping cat brush coupons
  23. 23. KEYWORD RESEARCH IS 
 MORE ART THAN SCIENCE. Your keyword lists will be more nuanced than ours. @STATrob
  24. 24. SIMPLE SHARE OF VOICE SCORING WEIGHT SEARCH VOLUME SHARE OF VOICE SCORE Rank 1 1 x 1000 = 1000 Rank 2 0.9 x 1000 = 900 Rank 3 0.8 x 1000 = 800 … … … … Rank 10 0.1 x 1000 = 100
  25. 25. DON’T FORGET THE DATA FROM OUR RESEARCH IS SPECIFIC TO OUR KEYWORD SET. YOUR RESULTS WILL DIFFER. @STATrob
  26. 26. I’M HERE TO SHOW YOU WHAT’S POSSIBLE. FOCUS ON THESE METHODS, RATHER THAN THE DATA. @STATrob
  27. 27. FOR EACH STAGE OF INTENT, 
 WE MAPPED THE SERP. @STATrob
  28. 28. FEATURED SNIPPETS
  29. 29. IMAGES
  30. 30. NEWS
  31. 31. PLACES
  32. 32. PEOPLE ALSO ASK
  33. 33. VIDEO
  34. 34. SHOPPING
  35. 35. QUESTION ONE HOW CAN WE UNLOCK GOOGLE’S INSIGHTS INTO WHAT SEARCHERS ARE LOOKING FOR AT EACH STAGE? @STATrob
  36. 36. QUESTION TWO WHAT POINTS OF LEVERAGE DO WE HAVE IN EACH STAGE TO MAKE SURE WE’RE VISIBLE AND USEFUL? @STATrob
  37. 37. QUESTION THREE CAN WE REVERSE-ENGINEER THE WINNING STRATEGIES OF KEY COMPETITORS AT EACH STAGE? @STATrob
  38. 38. HERE’S A 10,000-FOOT VIEW OF WHAT WE FOUND. @STATrob
  39. 39. ORGANIC RESULTS RULE. 10% 90% ORGANIC ALL OTHERS
  40. 40. BE THERE. BE USEFUL. BE QUICK. The core organic algorithm does an amazing job of determining which results are most useful to a given searcher’s intent. @STATrob
  41. 41. BUT SHOPPING BOXES 
 ARE MAAAAAAJOR. 40% 60% SHOPPING NON-SHOPPING
  42. 42. THESE ARE OUR 
 POINTS OF LEVERAGE. 7% 7% 9% 23% 25% 29% IMAGES VIDEO ANSWERS PLACES PEOPLE ALSO ASK NEWS
  43. 43. INFORMATIONAL INTENT STAGE. @STATrob
  44. 44. TOPOLOGY OF THE INFORMATIONAL SERP 5% 5% 8% 18% 21% 42% SHOPPING IMAGES NEWS VIDEOS PEOPLE ALSO ASK ANSWERS PLACES
  45. 45. SHOPPING RESULTS FOR OUR KEYWORDS IN THE INFORMATIONAL STAGE. 42% @STATrob
  46. 46. IMMEDIACY BEATS LOYALTY. Google knows that some people just want it now. 
 Fast and cheap. @STATrob
  47. 47. IMAGE RESULTS FOR 
 OUR KEYWORDS IN THE INFORMATIONAL STAGE. 21% @STATrob
  48. 48. IMAGES ARE A GREAT UX 
 FOR UNREFINED QUERIES. They’re an easy way to find the exact 
 model, style or colour you’re looking for. @STATrob
  49. 49. The view when a searcher clicks on an image.
  50. 50. VIDEO RESULTS FOR 
 OUR KEYWORDS IN THE INFORMATIONAL STAGE. 8% @STATrob
  51. 51. Video pack/carousel
  52. 52. Stand-alone video result
  53. 53. 7 SITES WITH VIDEO RESULTS Results 0 35 70 YOUTUBE PCGAMER LIFEHACKER VICE EBAY MASHABLE STANCE 111122 62
  54. 54. FEATURED SNIPPET RESULTS FOR OUR KEYWORDS IN THE INFORMATIONAL STAGE. 5% @STATrob
  55. 55. LET’S LOOK AT THE POTENTIAL 
 OF GOING AFTER THESE FEATURED SNIPPETS. @STATrob
  56. 56. WHICH STYLE OF FEATURED SNIPPET 
 IS THE MOST COMMON? Results 0 10 20 30 40 50 LIST PARAGRAPH TABLE 2 39 1
  57. 57. AVERAGE SEARCH VOLUME PER FEATURED SNIPPET RESULT FOR OUR INFORMATIONAL KEYWORDS. 23,300 @STATrob
  58. 58. WIKIPEDIA IS THE OBVIOUS INCUMBENT HERE. Results 0 5 10 15 20 WIKIPEDIA.ORG AMAZON.COM BESTBUY.COM XEROX.COM OFFICEDEPOT.COM 1 22 3 17
  59. 59. WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED 
 ABOUT THE SERPS FOR OUR INFORMATIONAL KEYWORDS? @STATrob
  60. 60. LESSON 1 RECOGNIZE WHEN YOU’LL NEED A PAID STRATEGY TO WIN. @STATrob
  61. 61. THE PREVALENCE OF SHOPPING BOXES CAN’T BE IGNORED. We need a paid strategy to give searchers what they want here. @STATrob
  62. 62. LESSON 2 LOOK FOR STRONG BIAS TOWARDS CERTAIN SITES. @STATrob
  63. 63. CAN YOU DISPLACE AN INCUMBENT LIKE WIKIPEDIA? They dominate the featured snippets in this stage. 
 Is there really room for us to win there? @STATrob
  64. 64. LESSON 3 LOOKING AT THE SERP TOPOLOGY TELLS US WHAT GOOGLE THINKS THESE SEARCHERS WANT. @STATrob
  65. 65. IN THIS STAGE, WE SAW SEARCHER NEEDS BEING MET BY NEWS, IMAGES, AND ORGANIC. This is what Google has determined is the best outcome for these searches. @STATrob
  66. 66. COMMERCIAL 
 INTENT STAGE. @STATrob
  67. 67. TOPOLOGY OF THE COMMERCIAL SERP 12% 13% 10% 59% SHOPPING IMAGES NEWS VIDEOS PEOPLE ALSO ASK ANSWERS PLACES
  68. 68. WHAT’S THE AVERAGE SHARE OF VOICE CONTRIBUTION PER RESULT? SHAREOFVOICESCORE 0 1,500 3,000 4,500 6,000 SHOPPING IMAGES NEWS VIDEOS P.A.A. ANSWERS PLACES 16 1,946 44188 5,184 53 704
  69. 69. LET’S REVERSE-ENGINEER 
 THE WINNING STRATEGIES 
 IN THIS STAGE. @STATrob
  70. 70. WHO HAS THE MOST SHARE OF VOICE 
 IN THIS STAGE? SHAREOFVOICESCORE 0 100,000 200,000 300,000 400,000 CONSUMER REPORTS TECHRADAR AMAZON CNET PCMAG 308K321K 352K 374K376K
  71. 71. BUT WHO HAS THE MOST RANKINGS?RANKINGS 0 1,750 3,500 CONSUMER REPORTS TECHRADAR AMAZON.COM CNET PCMAG 204230 3,117 138299
  72. 72. WHO IS WINNING WHERE? SHAREOFVOICESCORE 0K 100K 200K 300K 400K CONSUMER REPORTS TECHRADAR AMAZON.COM CNET PCMAG NEWS VIDEO ANSWERS ORGANIC
  73. 73. SEGMENT BY THE QUERY MODIFIER TO SEE WHICH 
 RESULT TYPES GOOGLE LIKES. @STATrob
  74. 74. SERP TOPOLOGY FOR “BEST” QUERIES 29% 12% 5% 50% SHOPPING IMAGES NEWS VIDEOS PEOPLE ALSO ASK ANSWERS PLACES
  75. 75. SERP TOPOLOGY FOR “COMPARE” QUERIES 8% 6% 42% 10% 34% SHOPPING IMAGES NEWS VIDEOS PEOPLE ALSO ASK ANSWERS PLACES
  76. 76. SERP TOPOLOGY FOR “NEW” QUERIES 4% 12% 7% 27% 50% SHOPPING IMAGES NEWS VIDEOS PEOPLE ALSO ASK ANSWERS PLACES
  77. 77. DON’T FORGET GO DEEPER THAN THE SURFACE DATA. DIG INTO SHARE OF VOICE. @STATrob
  78. 78. WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED 
 ABOUT THE SERPS FOR OUR COMMERCIAL KEYWORDS? @STATrob
  79. 79. LESSON 1 BY USING SHARE OF VOICE, MEASURE WHICH DOMAINS ARE WINNING. @STATrob
  80. 80. WITH ALMOST 3,000 FEWER RANKINGS, TECHRADAR STILL 
 BEAT AMAZON. Focusing on share-of-voice winners makes the analysis easier. @STATrob
  81. 81. LESSON 2 PERFORM SHARE OF VOICE ANALYSIS ON RESULT TYPES TO ASSESS THEIR POTENTIAL. @STATrob
  82. 82. WE CAN REVERSE ENGINEER TECHRADAR’S WINNING STRATEGY: FEATURED SNIPPETS. @STATrob
  83. 83. LESSON 3 SEGMENT EVEN DEEPER ON QUERY MODIFIERS LIKE “BEST” TO SEE HOW THE SERPS ADAPT. @STATrob
  84. 84. FOR “BEST” SEARCHERS WANT SNIPPETS. FOR “COMPARE” THEY WANT VIDEOS. This is where you get some of the most actionable insight into searcher intent. @STATrob
  85. 85. TRANSACTIONAL INTENT STAGE. @STATrob
  86. 86. TOPOLOGY OF THE TRANSACTIONAL SERP 9% 7% 11% 69% SHOPPING IMAGES NEWS VIDEOS PEOPLE ALSO ASK ANSWERS PLACES
  87. 87. WHO HAS THE MOST SHARE OF VOICE 
 IN THIS STAGE? SHAREOFVOICESCORE 0K 125K 250K 375K 500K AMAZON.COM WALMART.COM OVERSTOCK.COM BESTBUY.COM SEARSOUTLET.COM 104K 165K 205K 397K400K
  88. 88. WHO IS WINNING WHERE? SHAREOFVOICESCORE 0K 100K 200K 300K 400K AMAZON.COM WALMART.COM OVERSTOCK.COM BESTBUY.COM SEARSOUTLET.COM ORGANIC NEWS VIDEO ANSWERS
  89. 89. TWEETABLE TIP THE FURTHER DOWN THE FUNNEL YOU GO, THE MORE DISTILLED THE SERP BECOMES. @STATrob
  90. 90. THIS IS GOOD OL’ FASHIONED SEO! (Ok, and PPC.) @STATrob
  91. 91. ARE YOU RANKING HIGH? 
 RANKING THE RIGHT CONTENT? @STATrob
  92. 92. WHAT KIND OF CONTENT 
 IS AMAZON RANKING? RANKINGS 0 400 800 1200 1600 CATEGORY PRODUCT COUPON OTHER 104 706 1,590
  93. 93. WHAT ABOUT WALMART’S CONTENT? RANKINGS 0 400 800 1200 1600 CATEGORY PRODUCT 162 1,008
  94. 94. AND OVERSTOCK’S CONTENT? RANKINGS 0 400 800 1200 1600 CATEGORY PRODUCT BUYERS' GUIDE 1011 422
  95. 95. WHAT HAVE WE LEARNED 
 ABOUT THE SERPS FOR OUR TRANSACTIONAL KEYWORDS? @STATrob
  96. 96. LESSON 1 THE DEEPER YOU GO IN THE FUNNEL, THE MORE YOU HAVE 
 TO RELY ON ORGANIC RANKINGS. @STATrob
  97. 97. ORGANIC RESULTS WERE THE BEST WAY TO PUSH TRAFFIC IN THIS STAGE. Catering content towards universal results isn’t going to win the day when searchers are this low in the funnel. @STATrob
  98. 98. LESSON 2 ANALYZE RANKING URLS TO FIND OUT WHAT UX SATISFIES THE SEARCHER’S INTENT. @STATrob
  99. 99. THE MAJORITY OF PAGES WE 
 SAW RANKING HIGHEST WERE CATEGORY PAGES. We also identified a few potential areas, like coupons, where we might be able to develop new content. @STATrob
  100. 100. SO WHAT CONCLUSIONS HAVE WE REACHED? @STATrob
  101. 101. GOOGLE’S ADVICE YOU HAVE TO BE THERE, BE USEFUL, AND BE QUICK. @STATrob
  102. 102. HOW TO “BE THERE” QUALITY KEYWORD RESEARCH AND THOROUGH SEGMENTATION BY INTENT STAGES IS CRUCIAL. @STATrob
  103. 103. HOW TO “BE THERE” YOU KNOW IF YOU’RE “THERE” 
 BY MEASURING SHARE OF VOICE. You can break this out by stage or result type. @STATrob
  104. 104. HOW TO “BE USEFUL” LOOK AT SERP TOPOLOGIES TO FIND OUT WHAT GOOGLE THINKS IS USEFUL TO SEARCHERS. @STATrob
  105. 105. SERP TOPOLOGY FOR “COMPARE” QUERIES 8% 6% 42% 10% 34% SHOPPING IMAGES NEWS VIDEOS PEOPLE ALSO ASK ANSWERS PLACES
  106. 106. HOW TO “BE USEFUL” CREATE STRATEGIC CONTENT EXPERIENCES THAT SATISFY SEARCHERS’ IMMEDIATE NEEDS. @STATrob
  107. 107. HOW TO “BE QUICK” OPTIMIZE SITE SPEED AND 
 GET RIGHT TO THE POINT. Omit everything that distracts from the immediate needs of the searcher. @STATrob
  108. 108. HOW MANY UNIVERSAL RESULTS 
 ARE THERE IN EACH STAGE? 0% 50% 100% INFORMATIONAL COMMERCIAL TRANSACTIONAL 10%11%15%
  109. 109. TOPOLOGY OF THE INFORMATIONAL SERP 5% 5% 8% 18% 21% 42% SHOPPING IMAGES NEWS VIDEOS PEOPLE ALSO ASK ANSWERS PLACES
  110. 110. TOPOLOGY OF THE COMMERCIAL SERP 12% 13% 10% 59% SHOPPING IMAGES NEWS VIDEOS PEOPLE ALSO ASK ANSWERS PLACES
  111. 111. TOPOLOGY OF THE TRANSACTIONAL SERP 9% 7% 11% 69% SHOPPING IMAGES NEWS VIDEOS PEOPLE ALSO ASK ANSWERS PLACES
  112. 112. WHICH RESULT TYPE HAS 
 THE HIGHEST AVERAGE SHARE OF VOICE?SHAREOFVOICESCORE 0 1,500 3,000 4,500 6,000 ORGANIC SHOPPING EVERYTHING ELSE 2,997 5,312 1,992
  113. 113. KEY TAKEAWAY OPTIMIZING FOR UNIVERSAL RESULTS IS THE BEST WAY TO ENSURE YOU’RE SATISFYING SEARCHER INTENT. @STATrob
  114. 114. KEY TAKEAWAY WE CAN SNOOP INTO GOOGLE’S FINDINGS ON SEARCH INTENT BY LOOKING AT SERP TOPOLOGY. @STATrob
  115. 115. KEY TAKEAWAY AS WE MOVE DOWN THE INTENT FUNNEL, DIFFERENT RESULT TYPES RISE AND FALL IN VALUE. @STATrob
  116. 116. KEY TAKEAWAY WITH KNOWLEDGE OF INTENT, WE CAN CRAFT THE RIGHT CONTENT FOR THE RIGHT MOMENT OF THE SEARCHER’S JOURNEY. @STATrob
  117. 117. THIS ANALYSIS IS EASY TO DO. 
 HERE’S WHAT YOU NEED: • A SERP tracking tool that can break out result types • Search volume data • A share of voice model of your choosing • Excel or SQL @STATrob
  118. 118. DOWNLOAD THE 
 WHITEPAPER: GETSTAT.COM/SEARCHLOVE
  119. 119. ONE MORE THING… @STATrob
  120. 120. WOULD YOU LIKE TO SEE SOME FRESH FEATURED SNIPPET RESEARCH? @STATrob
  121. 121. WE WERE CURIOUS ABOUT FEATURED SNIPPET VOLATILITY. So, naturally, we ran the numbers! @STATrob
  122. 122. THREE TYPES OF VOLATILITY • Featured snippet disappearing • Featured snippet reappearing after it’s disappeared • Featured snippet URL changing @STATrob
  123. 123. WE TRACKED THE DATA FOR 20 DAYS • 232,451 keywords that showed snippets on day one • Tracked on a smartphone device • Tracked in Los Angeles, California @STATrob
  124. 124. GOOD NEWS! Most snippets are actually quite stable. @STATrob
  125. 125. 68% OF SNIPPETS WERE UNCHANGED OVER 20 DAYS. 68% @STATrob
  126. 126. 89% OF QUERIES HAVE SNIPPETS THAT APPEARED EVERY DAY. 89% @STATrob
  127. 127. MOST OF THE VOLATILITY WE SAW WAS DUE TO URL CHANGES. When SERPs have a snippet, it looks like they stick around. @STATrob
  128. 128. SNIPPETS ARE SELECTED FROM UP TO THREE DIFFERENT SOURCE URLS 98% of snippets are sourced from up to three different URLs. @STATrob
  129. 129. STABLE SNIPPETS PULL MOSTLY FROM RANKS THREE & FOUR. If you spot a snippet pulling from below rank four, you have a better chance of stealing it. @STATrob
  130. 130. PARAGRAPH SNIPPETS ARE THE MOST STABLE FORMAT. Table snippets are Google’s least favourite format. @STATrob
  131. 131. KEY TAKEAWAY: TRACK THE SNIPPETS IN YOUR SPACE. See how snippet appearance and formats are changing, track their volatility, and see what three URLs are your competition. @STATrob
  132. 132. READ MORE: 
 GETSTAT.COM/VOLATILITY @STATrob

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