The landscape for how users shop and interact with brands has been changing drastically over the last few years. With the surge in social advertising and the massive gains in display targeting capabilities, users are being led away from the search engine results page (SERP), aka what we all refer to as Google. Additionally, when users actually do venture to Google to search for something, they’re unlikely to click through to your website. In fact, zero-click searches make up nearly 50% of all Google searches.
What's Going On?
A big reason for this shift is because of how the SERP has changed and all of the work Google has put in to providing users the information they need upfront. Google has launched more and more knowledge panels, providing easily-digestible information directly on the SERP — like the local knowledge graph and featured snippets. They’ve even made location-based information more prevalent within ads. All of this allows the user to get the information they need without a click.
For example, a user looking for a business’ phone number or address would typically visit the Contact Us page of the respective website. Now, Google My Business (GMB) posts provide that information up front. This means users don’t venture over to the business’ website, thus keeping the user on Google for as long as possible.
In addition to giving users more direct information, Google has been launching more integrations within the SERP to keep users within a Google-owned product when their search requires more than just a quick read. Take Google Flights, for example. The user can compare prices across airlines, track potential price changes, and even book their flight all through Google (unless you fly Southwest, of course). So even when you do click, you’re still not clicking away from Google and staying within their product the entire time. These interactions make up nearly 6% of all searches.
What Does This Mean?
Paid search has long been seen as a bottom-funnel channel–a fact that we’re not disputing. It is crucial to understand that search as a whole (paid, organic, local) isn’t exclusively bottom-funnel because the intent of a user’s search can vary. For example, a user searching for “halloween costume ideas” isn’t as likely to convert as a user searching for “taco costume for great dane.”
If you have a well-rounded search strategy coupled with a strong digital marketing presence, you’ll be able to capture that user throughout their process. Starting with a strong content strategy to capture the featured snippet within the SERP encourages users to visit your page. Once the user visits your page, they will be followed with retargeting efforts across relevant channels (such as display and social ads) to keep them engaged and interested in your product or service. This process ends with a highly targeted, bottom-funnel paid search strategy built to grab them once they’ve made a decision – they just need to choose the site on which to make their purchase.
With these updates to the SERP, channel diversity has become increasingly important to reach users throughout the funnel, so when they do search, they’ll go on your brand to convert rather than staying within the SERP.
Beyond paid media channel diversity, a varied and collaborative digital marketing approach will help drive stronger performance and cement your brand as a thought-leader. Want a digital marketing strategy of your own? Give us a call. We might know some people.
Written by Rachel Macadam–Paid Media Strategist