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What You Need To Know About Organic Search Rankings

A lot of organic search marketers have one thing in common. They all want to get to the top competition to show their clients they are the best guy for them. While they all have that one single goal in mind, they don’t follow the same approach to achieve it because:

  • Some may do ethical while others may do unethical.
  • Some may focus on specialized techniques while others will focus on promotional.
  • Some may spend on advertising while others will concentrate on non-paid ads.
  • Some may improve on-site while others may improve the off-site.

While each bullet points above may directly or indirectly keywords rankings, no one knows outside Google what signals are helping you rank in organic search. We only know that Google has incorporated over 200 ranking factors to evaluate web pages quality and usability for its users. But we don’t know every single detail of it.

The complete list of ranking factors is one thing Google NEVER reveals. That, if there is even such thing as a complete list. Just drop the entire list of ranking factors and focus on what matters at the moment. Besides, if you can get high organic traffic, why bother digging deeper?

As we know, Google show results for a single query in six different formats as listed below:

  • All format with Paid Results
  • Map Results
  • Images
  • Videos
  • News
  • Books

Of course, Google show results based on a user query. If a search query contains a location, probably you will see a list of business listing in the results. However, there has been a lot of changes made throughout the years. The simple types of results which I mentioned above are still in place, but there have been major tweaks made which are my focus in this article.

In my opinion, these tweaks are a strong signal from Google to webmasters to focus less on keyword ranking and concentrate more on academic ranking. So in this article, I’ll show why keyword ranking may not matter as much as it used to be.

1. People Also Ask

Google is a fan of the ultimate source of information. They want everyone to use Google as their go-to place when they need information. They aim to provide quick answers to any queries as often as possible. While Google mostly pulls the data from their index, it usually adds a link pointing to the original source. Which increases the chances of a website to get more click through rates from search.

Typically, this feature in organic listing answers common questions. So it does not matter whether it is a common sense question, it will be presented in SERPs as long as it answers the user query.
Take a look at some examples below:

people-also-ask

If you search for “people also ask” in Google, you’ll see how it often features a snippet, but instead of being at the top of the results, it’s presented in the middle of top ten results.

What you can do to obtain potentially featured snippets:

  • Write informational content in your industry
  • Create content that answers certain questions (ex: how to boil egg)
  • Always provide answer strictly to get better-featured snippets display.
  • Respond to questions with a direction solution, in one or two sentences.

2. Featured Snippet

This feature in organic search results shows a direct answer to a particular search query. Google pulls the data algorithmically from a web page it believes the best information suited to the user query. In featured snippets, you don’t need to rank #1 for your target keyword. If Google finds that your content gives value to the reader, you’ll be rewarded with a featured snippet.

Note that a featured snippet is just a summary of a web page. Don’t always expect to get good answers displayed to your questions.
Take a look at the picture below:

featured-snippet
The answer to “how to cut hair” query is not a direct response. But the article page itself is about how to cut hair. If you click through the source, you might end up finding the information you were searching. However, the snippet result doesn’t give you enough information.

For another search query, you can get a better answer from the featured snippet result.

featured-snippet2
3. Knowledge Graph

Do not confuse the knowledge graph. This is one of the best features you can find available in organic listings. Knowledge graph provides multiple answers to a single query. This feature in Google search results is not similar to featured snippets, but they do have commonalities such as:

  • They both pull data from web pages indexed by Google
  • They are both presented in position zero in search

The knowledge graph, Google pulls data from multiple data sources such as Wikipedia. They show factual information for entities such as a person, organization or place. Fortunately, this is something you can customize for the entities:

  • Company logo
  • Social Pages
  • Contact information
  • Book
  • Book Series
  • Educational Organization
  • Event
  • Government Organization
  • Local Business
  • Movie
  • Movie Series
  • Music Album
  • Music Group
  • Music Recording
  • Organization
  • Periodical
  • Person
  • Place
  • Sports Team
  • TV Episode
  • TV Series
  • Video Game
  • Video Game Series
  • Website

Since Google is looking at the entity for knowledge graph, this does not concern your typical keyword ranking results. So if you are not utilizing knowledge graph to your website, you could be a high-value visibility in SERPs for entity search.

4. In the News

The in the news feature in Google search results is highly beneficial for content publishers. It allows web pages attract more click through rates from search. Admit it or not. People are sometimes biased, and they would go for trusted information instead of giving a try the new ones.

In the image below, you can see that the search for “how to win on Facebook “ has been featured in organic search results. More often than not, it will surely get click through rate even if it is not ranked #1 in SERPs. This strong indication tells me that regardless of your position in organic search if your content is featured in Google’s news section, you will surely get more organic traffic.

in-the-news

Tips to be featured on in the news:

  • Google will let you know if you are qualified
  • Your content publication rate should not be once a week or month. But at least, every day.
  • Your writing style should be in journalistic standard
  • Your content for news feature should be in HTML format.

Keep in mind that you don’t have to be a news website to have this feature enabled for your site. In the image above, Quick Sprout is an active blog with over 30,000 indexed content probably made the site eligible for news feature.

For blogs, you must have an infinite blog post ideas that can help you come up with something new. It is easy to publish content, but it is not easy to make something that has the “wow factor.”

5. Rich Snippets

Google wants to know all information available possible on a web page. It helps Google understand web pages better and present it to users with useful results. Unlike the old Google ordinary snippets, what you can see is only page URL, page description, and page title.

rich-snippet

In this format of results, users might look for supporting data to reach their satisfaction. Google clearly sees this issue on users end and made an information based action. While most pages in search results still look the same way, some have had tweaks for better user experience.

rich-snippet_1
As you can see in the image above, the new search results have site links, maps and even directions on how to go to each entity. Did you notice that the map results is above the organic listing?

It is a strong indication coming from Google that we must not focus alone in keyword ranking. But also focus on providing information that will help the search users find the data they need without even bother trying to look for it!

rich-snippet_2

The image above is just one example of a rich snippet feature. There are other formats of rich snippets available for every web page out there for the following content:

Enable Rich Snippets for the following:

  • Products
  • Recipes
  • Reviews
  • Events
  • Software Apps
  • Videos
  • Articles

For handy using of content that are good candidate for rich snippets, you can use WordPress.org as your CMS. There are reviews that you can check out there such as this WPEngine Hosting review to educate yourself about the CMS and some tips and tricks on how to use it.

Summary

Google has moved away from keyword ranking and moving into an informational ranking. However, a lot of SEOs are still focusing more on keyword targeting and ranking rather than informational content. The signals coming from Google are crystal clear, and their actions are confirming it – think of RankBrain and HummingBird. I hope these five organic search features are more than enough to help you make a better decision in your organic search marketing.

Author bio

Joseph Gojo Cruz is a content marketer enthusiast with a lot of experience. We enjoys doing SEO, content development and social media marketing.

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