Search engine optimization continues to decline, making it one of the most underused search strategies, according to Matthew Mierzejewski, senior vice president of Merkle’s Search and Performance Marketing Lab.
“We’ve now seen a few quarters straight where organic click traffic rose, between 20% and 30%, year-on-year,” Mierzejewski said. “I think that’s a huge boon for organic. Google traffic volume rose during COVID times, with everyone locked in their house.”
Organic search visit growth remained high in Q4, mostly from the 40% year-on-year growth seen in retail and consumer goods, according to Merkle’s Digital Marketing Report for Q4 2020. Essential goods -- and groceries in particular -- produced the greatest growth, with online grocery shopping continuing through the holiday season.
Essential goods saw a 63% increase in organic search, but visits to grocery retailers fueled the overall category. Apparel visits rose 2% YoY in Q4 after seeing an 11% YoY decline in Q3, likely aided by holiday gift purchases. Growth in non-essential goods slowed, though remained strong YoY at 33%.
On mobile devices, organic visits grew 33% YoY, about the same as growth rates in Q3. Phone growth was 37% Y/Y, but Y/Y declines in tablet brought down overall mobile growth figures. Higher click-through rates and a 28% YoY increase in impressions both contributed toward YoY strength for phones.
Certain organic formats do better than others. Google shows strength in monetizing its search engine and creating the best layouts to generate revenue through paid search, but it is finding new ways to generate value for users in organic. SEO is often forgotten in many marketing initiates, Mierzejewski said, in terms of how it plays an important role.
Merkle continually builds solutions to understand “what organic listing will Google likely favor to generate the increase in click traffic,” Mierzejewski said. “The goal is to win the space in the Knowledge Graph for strategic keywords, rather than focus on how some YouTube video or popular product would rank on page one.”
Mierzejewski doesn’t believe brands are paying enough attention to their SEO strategy, especially when it comes to content on mobile. He said there is new data that suggests a huge demand exists for organic content and that Google is finally trying to meet the searcher’s demand.
“It’s happening to the detriment of [paid search],” he said.
An essential part of any strong SEO strategy are the third parties that link to a website, according to Eric Enge, principal of digital marketing solutions at Proficient. Content linked to by third parties is one way to build a brand’s performance and visibility across the web. For this reason, using backlinking tools is important, writes Enge in a recent report.
The Proficient report -- commissioned by Moz, known for its backlink tools -- sampled 28 domains and downloaded the complete link reports from Moz, ahrefs, and Majestic. The findings show Moz has the largest index of links. SEMrush also participated.
“Moz influenced the decision to conduct such a study, but the conclusions in this post are 100% our own, with no influence by Moz,” Enge wrote.
The goal was to evaluate link index size across an array of domains using summary data pulled from each provider’s APIs. The analysis aimed also to determine how well each tool performed routine deduping of link data and whether it reports the same link in more than one form.
Perficient selected 3,000 queries across technology, health, and finance, sourced without input from Moz.
Google results for these queries were pulled, and a list of the domains ranking in the top 100 were built. Identical entries were deleted, which left 85,308 domains.