January 05 2023


Digital Marketing Trends and Tool Changes 2023: Part 2

The Search Landscape is Constantly Changing 

While 2023 looks to be a big year for Google with the rollout of Google Analytics 4, it ended 2022 with a slew of new updates. One change you may have noticed is the continuous scroll for desktop search. The days of toggling pages are over and discussing what page your business is on is irrelevant. Now, it’s how far you scroll before your company pops up. That’s just one example of how the search engine landscape is constantly changing.  

We began preparing for the new year by reviewing the importance of user intent and how tool changes from Google highlight its importance. In part two of our blog series, we focus on the search landscape and how to make an impact with fresh content that goes beyond improved rankings by offering an improved user experience. Plus, you’ll learn how TopSpot navigates our Clients through this ever-changing landscape. 

Search Engine Results Page (SERP) Features for 2023 

Because Google is constantly changing, it will continue to test new ways to make ads as clickable to users as possible. Having a team keeping a pulse on these changes is crucial to keeping up, and TopSpot does that by reviewing your competitive landscape to provide the most accurate picture of what prospective clients are seeing. One of the ways we do this is by utilizing a system of tools, each with insight into crucial data points that track performance through your customers’ journeys.  

Paid search is one of the keys to any successful search strategy, and this year, Google is changing the word “Ad” to “Sponsored” and testing logo additions to ads on mobile.

Google has changed "Ads" to "Sponsored" on mobile.
Google ads are now labeled as “sponsored”.

Helpful Tip: Google is a mobile-first organization, meaning changes will show there prior to desktop. Expect to see more imagery in ad text and responsive search ads. It’s all about making them bigger, more competitive, and with more assets incorporated. It’s time to consider all aspects of the search landscape and to understand what it includes. 

Today only 2% of the daily five billion searches don’t have SERP features like images, videos, map packs, and “People Ask” sections. Consider channels throughout the buying process—how are you showing up in keyword searches, organic rankings, local listings, and reviews when searching direct competitors, paid search, and social? Remember, 57% of the buying process happens in the search space—meaning prospects are over halfway through the buyer’s journey before ever landing on your site. 

Prospects are over halfway through the buying process before contacting you.
The buyer’s journey before and after conversion.

Let’s Look at Some Stats—TopSpot Clients Weigh In 

To better understand this, we polled TopSpot Clients to see what they interact with, and a whopping percentage noted organic results as their channel of choice followed by images or videos. Also, 88% needed to see a company with more than one listing on the first page (or earlier in the scroll) before clicking. What does this tell us? 

We polled our Clients on what SERPs they click on.
TopSpot Client Survey

In our last blog, we highlighted Google’s new updates and tool changes reflecting their focus on trust. Content creators should lean on user intent to inform their sites and ads. While most of our Clients in the poll looked for organic listings, perhaps due to mistrust, paid came into play when two or more sources on the landscape bolstered trust. Additionally, the prominence of imagery and video isn’t just because “people don’t read anymore”. Those additional marks on the landscape all add up to make your site more accessible and set the user’s mind at ease as you show quality content that fulfills their intent honestly. It’s about an integrated strategy that covers as much real estate as possible. 

How Often Google SERP Features Appeared in 2021
Presence of SERP features

On the backend of Google, AI will continue to be a focus that impacts the landscape, including responsive rotating ads and autoreply recommendations. While this AI includes smart bidding, geo considerations, landing page signals, and language, it has a limited understanding of business goals. We’ve seen the good and bad of AI, but in 2023, we still need human oversight and input. TopSpotters work with you to understand your business to plan and how Google’s technologies will match up our dedicated keyword targets to the ads that it will serve. However, we always lean on the fact that the search defines the user.

Website User Experience—You’ve Been Spotted, Now What?  

Now that you’ve led prospects to your site using integrated search strategies, you still have work to do. Even if you have the #1 ranking in their search, buyers will do their due diligence by looking at competitors and getting quotes. The website is crucial to finishing the journey. You could get passed over if your site is dated, not mobile-friendly, or if another site is easier to use and has more helpful content. 

Our site best practices for 2023 start with recognizing that each business, like the buyer’s intent, is different, and understanding those things starts with reviewing prior analytics. When considering the website experience, think about the intent of the site and the goals page per page. Your website’s user experience should always be top of mind, but you should also ensure you’re representing your business first-hand by highlighting your experience, which algorithms deem trustworthy. Your site content should include what your competitive advantages are and what prospects can expect after choosing your business. 

In terms of elements on your website, best practice includes a search bar and an instantly visible call to action. 

Search and contact information are essential site elements
Adding a search bar on your site is crucial to providing the best possible user experience.

While keywords are important, how they get presented is as well. Many Clients benefit from a simplified design—clean with pops of color that don’t detract from the goal. We present content in digestible units utilizing bulleted lists and headings so topic divisions are clear. There’s also a balance of high-quality images, video, and content with loading speed and performance to consider.  

Google Core Web Vitals focuses on three key metrics: loading, interactivity, and visual stability. This tool saw two updates last year, rolling out to desktop after two years on mobile only and improved reporting. You don’t get penalized for these results in terms of search, but you don’t see the benefits you should. For instance, after one to three seconds of loading, 32% of mobile users will drop after each second. Google Core Web Vitals can flag that so delays get fixed, and users stick around. TopSpot’s Web Team makes sure you consider the factors that make a website visibly and technically sound, building a foundation for a great customer experience. 

Seeing is Believing—The Importance of Video 

Google is changing the format of how it will display video, keeping things like carousels in but testing YouTube links as an organic result. Given that Google owns YouTube, its importance will only grow within the platform. In SERP features specific to business landscapes, videos appear in 57.8% of results—that’s up 19.75% compared to 2021.  

Video search stats
Video statistics on Google.

The question is, “what types of videos should we include”? That depends on what type of user intent you need to fulfill. Company overviews, facility tours, how-to’s, and product demos all answer various queries pertaining to your business. Video allows you to expand upon content by personalizing because, unlike text content, it can’t be interpreted differently per viewer as they display experience first-hand. TopSpot has a video team versed in search strategies and creates the type of content that benefits both your site and search results.

Video Indexing is a new video reporting feature in Google Search Console. As of August of last year, you can see what’s being indexed, and understand areas of improvement or possibilities. So like content, there is plenty of data to be received and utilized in your SEO strategy.  

Another outlet using video is ads, and there are five different types of ads you can run via YouTube in Google Ads. Integration is seamless, and you can take site videos used to bolster SEO and repurpose it for Google Ads, keeping things cost-effective. A benefit to this is view per ads has a relatively low cost compared to other methods. Another staggering statistic is that 50.9% of B2B decision makers use YouTube to research purchases, outranking Facebook and LinkedIn. If you haven’t included videos in your search landscape, now’s the time. 

What’s Your Takeaway 

As Google continues its crusade for user trust, it will evolve and your search strategies should follow suit. TopSpot is an integrated search agency that analyzes available tools, then applies the right combination that fits your business goals and your user’s intent. When reviewing the search landscape for your business, the content recommended will aim to keep user trust from search to conversion. This includes thoughtful use of images and video for both search and landing pages. Contact us to learn more about how our integrated strategy can benefit your business to make 2023 your best year yet. 

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