Welcome to the August 2022 edition of State of Search.
In this post, we’ll look at the latest major SEO updates, case studies and research reports published in August.
There’s a new structured dataset from Google for product review websites that we’ll also take a closer look at.
Finally, we’ll review how much money businesses are spending on SEO and how to budget for it.
Let’s get started.
New Google Helpful Content Update To Change SEO Much Like Panda Did
The biggest news in SEO land in August has all been about the latest Google Search Algorithm update. Dubbed ‘Helpful Content’ the update is quite literally about rewarding sites that Google deems to have ‘helpful’ content.
But what does Google consider unhelpful? According to Google, it is content that has been designed solely to satisfy the search engine and not the user.
It is not clear how much of an impact this will have on websites as the rollout has only just started.
However, the algorithm is sitewide, meaning that it will affect your entire website and not certain pages.
Key takeaway: It’s important to not get too carried away when Google updates its search algorithm.
However, if your organic search traffic has recently fallen off a cliff with no other explanation then you may be a victim of this update.
If this does happen, audit all of your site content against Google’s quality guidelines and make improvements where possible.
What 20,000 Keywords Say About Google’s First Page
Google has been increasingly replacing ‘blue links’ search results with rich SERP features. These SERP features include videos, images, Google Maps and dozens more.
A recent data study of 20,000 keyword page one results helps us better understand how page one results work across a broad spectrum of keywords.
Some key statistics & observations:
- 62% of page one results have at least one SERP feature
- Longer keyword phrases result in fewer page one SERP features
- Shorter keyword phrases have more search volume but can be harder to rank blue links for as they tend to have more SERP features
Key takeaway: Google has been progressively increasing the amount and variety of SERP features over the years. Some see this as Google attempting to end the searcher’s journey at the search results page by answering their question then and there.
Put it this way, if you get the answer you are searching for on the search result page, will you bother clicking through to the websites that show up? For most people, the answer is ‘no’ which has gotten many SEOs panties in a twist.
In my opinion, this isn’t the right way to view the problem.
If you want to have the most competitive SEO strategy in 2022, you need to have a SERP ranking strategy.
Out of my portfolio of websites, the ones that have performed the best in organic search have been deeply indexed which SERP features across a wide variety of relevant keywords.
Rather than thinking SERP features are making it harder to rank, see them as an opportunity to gain more page one search real estate.
Google Rolls Out New Pros and Cons Structured Data for Product Reviews
In August, Google completed rolling out new pros and cons structured data for product review pages.
With a new set of Schema rich markup tags, your product review pros and cons can now show up in the search results.
Currently, only product review blog posts for single products are eligible for pros and cons markup.
Key takeaway: Google has been hammering affiliate product review sites over the last 12 months. With that said, it’s nice to see them throw some affiliate product review site owners a bone.
Having your search engine position ranking display rich markup can help to attract more clicks.
I suspect that larger product review website owners will take some time to adopt this new markup which could give smaller site owners a competitive advantage if they implement the new markup quickly.
Google Search Outage Caused Major Issues With Search Quality and Indexing
Another day, another Google data centre dumpster fire. On August 8th, the Iowa Google Data Centre caught fire leading to a massive outage with Google Search.
Search engine ranking monitors went haywire, leading SEOs to think Google dropped a massive unannounced core update bomb overnight.
Thankfully, the situation was resolved quickly and Google Search resumed business as usual.
However, during the outage, many site owners noticed big drop-offs in traffic only for it to recover afterwards.
Key takeaway: Sometimes, it’s the most obscure things that can cause your organic traffic to decline.
That’s why I never jump to quick conclusions or make rash decisions when I see organic traffic fluctuations.
Time after time, it has paid off to be patient and wait for the dust to settle first. That way, you can get a rational understanding of what caused the traffic decline and what needs to be done to fix it.
What Percentage of Your Budget Should go Toward SEO?
According to the latest CMO Survey Report, business marketing spend increased by 11.8% compared to the previous 12-month period.
Of that total marketing spend, digital marketing makes up 57.1%.
Furthermore, US companies spent $73.48 billion out of a total of $776.30 billion on digital marketing spend on SEO in 2019. That works out to be roughly 9.5% of all digital marketing spend.
Key takeaway: Almost every business wants to rank better on Google. However, many businesses have got no idea how much to pay for it.
The rule of thumb I recommend for Australian businesses that want to rank nationally for low to moderately competitive organic search keywords is $5,000/month minimum.
That minimum budget can easily double or tripled for competitive niches that need serious link building to have a remote chance of ranking on page one for commercially valuable keywords.
SEO isn’t getting any cheaper to do.
In fact, the cost of links continues to increase as more and more marketers realise the necessity of links as part of an effective SEO strategy.
So there you have it – that’s The State of Search for August 2022.
How did your website perform last month?
Were you impacted by any of the changes mentioned in this article?
Let me know by leaving a comment below.
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