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How Search Intent Modifiers Affect Google SERP Features

Did you know that one or two extra words in a search query can affect the type or types of SERP feature Google shows in its results?

The team at getstat.com recently posted an article titled How SERP Features Respond to Search Intent Modifiers which shows that swapping search intent modifiers can result in dramatic changes to Google SERPs features.

Before we take a closer look at STAT’s search intent data, let’s first define what we mean by search intent modifier.

What is Search Intent?

A basic search intent definition (also referred to search query intent) is determining what a searcher is most likely looking for when they type in a “keyword search” into Google. Often, they will use a search intent modifier to indicate their intent. For example, “buy” to indicate they want to make a purchase or “best” to indicate they want to compare products/service.

Some basic types of search engine user intent including:

  • Informational Intent Based Search – the searcher is looking to gain new knowledge on a topic.
    Search Modifier Examples: how to, what is, how big
  • Commercial Intent Based Search – the searcher is looking to gain more information before purchasing an item (ex. reviews, prices, warranties, etc.)
    Search Modifier Examples: best, compare, top
  • Transactional Intent Based Search – the searcher is ready to make a purchase.
    Search Modifier Examples: buy, coupon, price
  • Local Intent Based Search – the searcher is looking for something specific to their neighborhood or city.
    Search Modifier Examples: near me, close by, specific city names

STAT examined the 20 top SERP results (minus organics) for various search modifiers and compiled the numbers into extremely useful percentage points. For the purposes of this article, we have listed the top three types of SERP features based on their percentage in relation to the number of searches analyzed.

Search modifiers categorized by search intent were used to search on mobile devices in the US. The results provide some useful data for pursuing intent based search engine marketing and optimization. Let’s have a look.

1. SERP Features Triggered by Informational Search Intent Modifiers

No modifiers were used for informational searches, but the results are still interesting. News results came in a surprising 3rd, but given the keyword was found in the article title, this isn’t overwhelmingly unusual.

2. SERP Features Triggered by Commercial Search Intent Modifiers

The most common Commercial keyword modifiers for search intent purposes are found in the table below. I’ve selected the top 3 features for each modifier to highlight those with the most beneficial payoff.

Shopping Boxes led the entire Commercial intent category with the exception of the Compare modifier. What I found somewhat interesting is that Shopping snippets has substantial exposure for the modifiers “Deals” at 85.99% and “Used” at 74.92%.

STATS zeroed in on the potential of Featured Snippets (lists) for keyword modifiers “Best” and “Top”. These percentages are comparatively low and either Google is reluctant to present more of them in SERPs or there simply aren’t enough suitable Featured Snippets (lists) to present. This could be a golden opportunity for strategists focussing on such snippets.

3. SERP Features Triggered by Transactional Search Intent Modifiers

The most common Transactional modifiers for search intent purposes can be found in the table below. As with the Commercial modifiers, I’ve selected the top 3 SERP features found in the results using the modifier to highlight those with the best potential yield.

As STAT indicates, people want to quickly determine how much an item is going to cost – and likely search for the most affordable option. Google seems to feel that Featured Snippets (paragraphs) are an effective way to present this information for the Cost and Price modifiers.

What surprised me is that images were presented to such a large degree where the Price modifier was concerned. One would think at this stage of intent that numbers would supersede images.

4. SERP Features Triggered by Local Search Intent Modifiers

Because STAT only used Chicago and Dallas as local modifiers, there were few results. We see that Shopping, Places, and Images are the most popular type of SERP Feature.

We recommend that you do various searches with local intent for your own city. Search for local businesses, upcoming events, organizations, and so on in your area and see what type of results are shown.

Key Takeaways: Search Intent Optimization –  Planning Modifiers for Your SEO

  1. Examine the results of STAT’s research by focussing on Google’s propensity to post some SERP features above others for specific modifiers that were used. For example:
  • What modifiers do you think searchers could use when looking for your business and what SERP features are shown for those?
  • What modifiers show up in your Google Search Console Search Analytics reports and what SERP features are shown for those?
  1. You likely want to target Commercial, Transactional, and Local modifiers in your SEO Strategy. Be sure that you understand How Featured Snippets in Search Can Boost Your Website Traffic and How to Avoid Eliminated Featured Snippets.
  2. If images and videos are popular for search modifiers relevant to your business, be sure to have high quality and unique images loaded and optimized on your website. The same goes for uploading videos to YouTube and embedding on your website.

For more information about Advanced SEO Techniques such as search intent marketing and optimization please contact 1st on the List today by calling 1-888-262-6687 or email us at contact@1stonthelist.ca.

Bing to Encrypt Search Queries Starting This Summer

Bing has recently announced that they will now encrypt search traffic by default starting sometime this summer. This comes from a commitment to help keep data safe and secure, and following the industry’s general move to use TLS protocols. Bing users have had the option to encrypt searches for the last year and a half but now do not have to worry about taking this extra step to protect their privacy. All Bing searches will be encrypted.

This has several impacts on webmasters and marketers:

  1. Your traffic from Bing will increasingly come from https://www.bing.com vs http://www.bing.com
  2. Bing will not pass on the users’ query terms to webmasters and marketers.
  3. You will have limited access to query term data through Search Query Terms Report and Universal Event tracking within Bing Ads, and through Bing Webmaster Tools.

Since late 2011 Google has directed more and more searches to a secure page for their search activity and Webmasters have become accustomed to seeing the “not provided” or “keyword unavailable” in their data. At first Google predicted this would impact about 10% of search query data, but that number kept growing, and now most Webmasters see their “not provided” traffic for about 80-90% of their Google traffic.

Microsoft admits that this change may impact marketers and webmasters but believes the benefit of providing a more secure search is more important.

Read the official announcement here or learn more about how you can start to secure your website or sign up for Bing Webmaster Tools.

Google Webmaster Tools Now Called Google Search Console

Google is making some big changes lately including rebranding Google Webmaster Tools to Google Search Console this morning.

New-Google-Search-Console

For the last ten years Webmasters, website owners, SEOs, programmers, designers and others have been using this system to help troubleshoot their website. Google says that the new name better reflects everyone who uses the tool and cares about Search.

Do you care about Search?

Do you have Google Search Console set up for your website?

Do you use Google Search Console to diagnose and improve visibility of your website in search?

Do you know how to use all the data it provides to your maximum benefit?

Here are some of our favorite ways to use Google Webmasters Tools and Google Search Console:

  • What websites are linking to your website?
  • How does your average mobile rank compare to average desktop rank for specific keyword phrases?
  • What pages are generating the most impressions and clicks in Search Results?
  • Is a website being found a broader range of search phrases over time?
  • Is Google finding and indexing all the pages on your website?
  • Are there any security issues on the site?
  • Are there mobile usability issues?
  • Are there any manual webspam actions found for your website?
  • How many pages is Google crawling each day?
  • How much time is spent downloading a page of your website?

We can probably expect even more tools to be added to Search Console over the several months. Just a couple weeks ago they changed the “Search Queries” report to “Search Analytics” which gives much more robust filtering and comparison options when it comes to analyzing user’s search patterns.

Wondering how to set up Google Search Console? Let our experts do it for you and start analyzing all the information available for your website’s Search visibility!

Call us at 1-888-262-6687 ext 705 to get a quote today.

Bing Claims 20 Percent Search Market Share in 2015

The latest numbers by comScore are out and Bing search percent has officially hit the 20% market share in the US:

EntityShare % (March 2015)
Google Sites64.4%
Microsoft Sites (Bing)20.1%
Yahoo Sites12.7%
Ask Network1.8%
AOL., Inc.1.1%

The Bing vs Google percentage debate is still ongoing. Google is still very much the “big player” and essentially the Search Engine most businesses focus on ranking well. However, don’t forget that Bing search percentage is actually around 33% since it serves results in Yahoo search too.

Take a look in your own Google Analytics account to see what percentage of your search traffic comes from Google and what percentage comes from Bing. Compare your own traffic to overall share.

Read all of our Bing articles to become more familiar with this Search Engine.

What Benefits Lie In Pay Per Click Engines?

Pay per advertisements (or PPC ads) are Internet based, online advertising campaigns where the PPC ads with the highest bids are placed in a prominent location on a content related website or, more commonly with search engines, displayed at the top of the organic search results as “sponsored” or “paid” listings.

PPC advertising does not involve long design processes or waiting periods and can be implemented instantly.

These advertisements show up at the top of the page or next to the organic listing results, which are displayed for the searcher after a search query. These campaigns include monitoring programs that make post click tracking easy.

Value for the Money

Large and small companies can make use of PPC engines and it is often used to test the consumer’s reaction to a new product or service.

One of the great benefits of PPC is that it is so easily measurable, making an accurate return on investment calculation simple. The return on investment (ROI) of these campaigns is usually great as the targeted audience can easily convert to sales.

Because the cost of PPC advertising is not fixed it was traditionally considered risky and very expensive. Modern PPC engines bridged this problem by offering the option to set budget limits. You can easily and almost instantly change these limits should your budget change and thus have complete control of how much is spent.

Traditional forms of advertising have a fixed cost regardless of how many potential customers look at it.
With PPC advertising you only pay for the amount of people that actually click on the advertisement.
With many web-based companies their sales are directly related to the traffic they receive on the website. These types of companies benefit greatly from PPC engines and campaigns can dramatically increase profits.

How the Internet User Benefits

Internet users will only receive PPC advertisements that include the keywords that they searched for. The Internet users get an accurate search result as the ads are delivered immediately and show up either beside or above the organic search results.

Many of the PPC ads are from smaller companies as well since PPC advertising tends to put everyone on an equal footing. As long as the advertiser can sustain the PPC advertising budget, it really doesn’t matter how large or small the company is.

By clicking on a advertisement the user is directed to the website where they are most likely to find what they were searching for. PPC advertisements are subtler than flashy banner adverts that may annoy potential customers.

How Your Company Can Benefit

Making use of PPC search engines is considered to be much more effective than banner advertising as PPC search engines tend to deliver more traffic to your website and increase brand awareness.

Because the audience receiving these ads searched the very keywords your ads are built around, they are a more targeted audience and you are more likely to receive a better conversion rate.

Advertisements are easily modified and changes are instantly applied giving you the opportunity to immediately adapt and respond to a changing market.

PPC engines often have post click tracking programs with real-time data that can monitor and analyze the performance of your different campaigns by adding tracking codes to a website.

Post click tracking makes it easy to identify poor performing keywords and modify them to include more effective keywords, putting you in complete control of your PPC advertising campaign.