How SERP Features Are Crashing Your Google Search Traffic

Is your Google search traffic dropping every month, its the ever increasing SERF features, and don’t blame Google Panda for it every time. The Google search result pages are changing and the top 10 search results are not what they used to be a year ago.

Google is incorporating signals that make these pages more useful to the users, especially social signals, and now is more often interspersed with videos, news, images, and a lot more stuff. So don’t be surprised why your traffic is declining and your search engine rankings are going down as it becomes more difficult to get your link on the first pages of Google results.

1. Boost Social Signals 

Google believes you will like search results your friends like or recommend. Who better to recommend stuff than your closest friends?

Have you noticed how Google search results display more specific links liked or shared by your community of friends? This pushes many search results beyond the second page. And Google will even let you thank friends for it. Tip: Develop a huge social network across Twitter, Facebook and especially Google+ and get more visibility in search results.

Google social results

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2. Local Search is Hot Business

Google recently put out the Venice Update, which is bringing local search results which cater more to your geographical location, out on top of everything else.

It was a quiet update but shuffled a lot of things on search screens. It’s evident if you are looking to buy something, there is a better chance you are searching for it in your own local neighborhood.  e.g. a simple search for computers loads up 7 local results which nearly fill up the whole page.

Tip: If you have a local content site, use the opportunity to get more local traffic.

local results

3. Authority Sites Get Even Bigger

The big brands keep getting bigger and bigger with more PR, more trust, and better traffic by ranking higher. Search for the most common terms will usually reveal Wikipedia entries or respected news resources like Reuters or other large portals. e.g. a simple search for computers send out the top 3 results from Wikipedia itself. You have a tough chance of ranking higher than that.

Tip: Develop an authority site that can give competition to top brands and compete for the top search ranking spots.

wikipedia results

4. Everyone Likes Videos

If your search query is a popular term for video queries too, expect to see a large chunk of mid-search result space occupied by lots of Youtube videos.

The more popular the query, the more Youtube video links. These will surely push a lot of links out of the way.

Tip: Develop popular Youtube videos and get more Youtube pageviews.

Google video results

5. Everyone Loves Images

If your query targets a lot of popular images for the term in Google Images, they will also occupy a large area to shift your results down.

Tip: Use lots of images on your site and label them carefully with the right Alt tags to get your image on top of image search results and directly to your site.

Google Image results

6. Breaking News Always Works

If your query is a trending topic in Google news, expect some news stories to also pop in the results and drag your links down.

Tip: Post on current and trending topics, get listed in Google news, and become an authority site and your news links will get more clicks than the top sites.

Google news results

7. Sitelinks Mark Authority

Powerful authority websites also have multiple sitelinks, search boxes, and breaking news columns which take up considerable screen space (Of course they are much less than the huge 12 site links which we got!).

Tip: It’s difficult to match super popular sites like BBC, CNN, and NYT – but bigger sites get bigger site links, news links, search boxes, and a larger screen space which assure better traffic to your site.

authority google results

Summary: With all these types of Google search results, more so for specific queries, it will definitely lead to a better user experience. But what has changed for webmasters and SEO experts – it’s no longer about getting your site in the top 3 ranks. Because the top ranks are going to authority sites and the rest are heavily dependent on the type of query and being more influenced by social community support (get a huge community) and more new media results like news, images, and videos, so do remember to do some video SEO and images SEO to rank higher out there.

Basically, Google result pages are much different now than a few years back when all SEO efforts were focused to get on the first page.  Also don’t be surprised when you see bigger brands, popular social media celebrities, local businesses, and popular youtube video channels ranking higher. Every traffic drop is not Google Panda affected, it’s just that the web is changing and so is Google….

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About the Author: P Chandra is editor of QOT, one of India's earliest tech bloggers since 2004. A tech enthusiast with expertise in coding, WordPress, web tools, SEO and DIY hacks.