How to Capture Greater Google SERP Real Estate
If you’re a company looking to gain leverage and long-term value, you might look to purchase the buildings or land on which you operate your business. McDonald’s famously purchased the land of their fast-food locations and proceeded to build a war chest of roughly $40 billion in real estate value. The more land and buildings you own, the greater the empire.
In the war for attention, capturing greater screen real estate in the Google search engine results page (SERP) is similarly crucial. The company that captures multiple rankings in the Google top 10 will have a significant business advantage over competitors for a given query.
Take a Multi-Pronged Approach to SEO
Capturing real estate in the Google top 10 isn’t as straightforward as it once was. A decade ago, all you had to do to capture Google page one rankings was optimize your website for text-based search results.
But today, to capture as much Google real estate as possible, you should take a multi-pronged approach:
- Optimize your pages and posts
- Optimize for SERP features such as People Also Ask (PAA), videos, and FAQs
- Engage in a multi-asset approach to SEO
- Leverage third-party web properties for incremental rankings
Google SERP Dominance in Action
For example, one Stratabeat client was able to dominate the Google SERP for its top, non-branded SEO keyword through the following combination of rankings:
In this post, learn strategies you can use to dominate the Google top 10 that are far more effective than merely mapping one web page to one target SEO keyword.
The Benefits of Dominating the Google Search Results for Your Market
Dominating the Google SERP with multiple rankings is incredibly valuable. If you can capture more than one of the top results for a specific query, you’re going to see benefits beyond the increased visibility. Here are just a few of those benefits:
Increased Organic Search Traffic
If you own the top search results, you’re going to own the majority of search traffic for that query. Think about it. The top three Google rankings tend to attract 40% to 50% of the clicks for a given query (depending on the keyword, of course). You clearly benefit from greater organic traffic if you occupy more than one of the top three. But any additional rankings in the top 10 will also bring you more traffic, ensuring a healthy flow of potential new customers.
On top of this, if you augment your rankings through a PAA listing, video, or microsite, etc., you increase your chances of attracting a click-through even if they bypass your standard listings.
Achieving multiple Google rankings on a variety of priority keywords throughout the customer journey is a surefire path to increased organic traffic and leads.
Greater Brand Awareness
Want to increase the overall awareness of your brand? There are few things better for that than dominating the search results. If people see your brand dominating the search pages for multiple queries, including brand features in third-party websites, blogs, and podcasts, they’re going to start to recognize you, perceive you as a serious player in the industry, and trust your brand over others.
Better Control Over Your Message
There’s always a narrative around your business. The question is, who controls that narrative? Having control over search results is a great way to ensure that YOUR message, stories, and content are what are seen by your target audience.
All things equal, ruling the Google SERPs for relevant queries is going to translate into more revenue. You’ll get more clicks to pages on your website, which leads to more interested prospects. If the content on your site resonates with your audience and if your business is adept at converting leads to customers, your client roster and revenue will increase.
Many marketing teams are thinking too narrowly in terms of the potential of organic search. By taking a multi-asset approach, you can capture more real estate in the SERP, driving more traffic and leads for your business.
The Google SERP Is A Zero-Sum Game
The harsh reality is that the Google SERP is a zero-sum game. There are a limited number of spots in the Google top 10. If you can take those spots away from the competition, you gain an edge. You push them down in the search results, and potentially even out of the top 10 altogether.
These stats from Backlinko show just how valuable the top 10 Google search results can be:
- The top spot in Google’s organic search results has an average CTR of 27.6%
- The #1 organic result is 10X more likely to receive a click compared to a page in the #10 spot
As mentioned earlier, if you own the #1 to #3 search results, you’re already getting the lion’s share of traffic compared to those below you. Imagine how that traffic increases when you own the top results for multiple rankings.
Every Google SERP feature that you own increases the amount of brand exposure you gain. And having multiple rankings on the page makes searchers feel that you’re a real player in the industry. The impact on brand perception cannot be overstated.
And on top of that, when you own the top spots, you push your competition down the SERPs, making it less likely that they will even be seen. It’s a win-win.
Start with a SERP Analysis
To capture more real estate in the Google search results, conduct a thorough SERP analysis. See what the top results are, as well as how they are displayed. Is the top result a featured snippet? Does the Google top 10 include a list of steps in a how-to tutorial? Videos? Images? FAQs? A local 3-pack? Social media posts?
Strive for a 360-degree understanding of the search results if you want to own more of them. This will help you make informed decisions about what content to create and how to optimize your digital assets for a specific query.
Along with a manual review of the Google search results, you can use a tool such as thruuu for a more sophisticated SERP analysis. For example, use thruuu to uncover and identify:
An in-depth SERP analysis enables you to not only better align with search intent and increase the probability of achieving a high ranking in Google, but to also identify ways to differentiate your content from competitors.
Capture as Much SERP Real Estate as Possible
Now let’s talk specifically about steps you can take to capture as much of the SERP real estate as possible.
Standard Google Search Results
The first, and most obvious target, is the standard Google search results. Your goal is to get your content into not only one, but multiple spots for relevant queries.
Capturing the standard search results requires on-page SEO optimization. For example:
These tactics lay the foundation for your content to rank in Google’s standard search results. They are non-negotiable. If you don’t do these things, don’t expect your page to rank in the SERPs.
Capturing the featured snippet is part art, part SEO. There is no guaranteed way to get the featured snippet since it is selected by the Google algorithm. However, there are some things you can do to increase your chances of getting it.
First, make sure your content is concise and to the point. Google likes to display snippets that are 40-60 words long, so keep this in mind when writing. Google isn’t going to show long, winding, confusing sentences to searchers.
Second, answer the searcher’s query as directly and simply as possible. The featured snippet is a direct response to the query, so make sure your content provides a clear answer to the particular query. If the query is a question, your content should directly answer it. One effective way to do this is to include a FAQ section in your content. This allows you to speak directly to questions posed by searchers.
Additionally, structure your content properly based on what the user’s query is. For example, Google will often display a list of bullet points in the featured snippets. Your content format should mirror what Google is looking to display for a given query.
People Also Ask (PAA)
To show up in the PAA section, directly answer your audience’s questions. This Google SERP feature displays several questions and answers related to the topic. To capture a spot in the PAA section, make sure your content includes questions AND answers related to the query. Again, FAQ sections are a great way to do this.
Inclusion of PAAs in the Google SERPs is increasing over time. In fact, PAAs appear in the SERP 10X more often than a featured snippet.
Don’t overlook PAA questions as an effective opportunity to capture more of the Google SERP. Useful tools to identify the questions your audience is asking include AlsoAsked, Answer Socrates, Semrush, and thruuu.
Having one or more of your videos show up in the search results can be incredibly powerful. It gives you an opportunity to get your message across directly in a format that’s emotionally engaging.
To rank your video in the search results, produce high-quality videos with compelling content and optimize them properly. Make sure your videos are informative. Furthermore, use the right title, descriptions, and tags. This will help ensure that Google is able to understand the content of your video and determine whether it’s relevant to a particular query. Check out Stratabeat’s 31 steps for YouTube SEO.
In certain cases, it can also help to upload a transcript of your video so Google knows exactly what the content is and what subjects it relates to. (Note, this is not always realistic or advisable, depending on the page.)
Images are underrated when it comes to Google search results. You can use images to stand out and provide searchers with something eye-catching to grab their attention. With images, you can share infographics, pull quotes, slides from a presentation, data visualizations, etc.
To rank in the image results, follow basic image optimization practices such as:
- Using descriptive image titles
- Using descriptive file names
- Including relevant keywords in the image alt text when appropriate
PR and News
Especially in B2B SEO, one complementary approach to grabbing more Google SERP real estate is to engage in coordinated PR with your SEO program. This can come in the form of press releases, interviews, campaigns, newsjacking, contributions to a reporter’s article, etc.
If your brand appears in the SERP’s “Top Stories”, you’ll ensure that more SERP real estate is focused on your brand. To grab a spot in the news, conduct PR on a regular basis with an eye towards the topics for which you want greater visibility in the Google SERP. Build relationships with the publications that matter most in your industry. But go beyond the obvious choices, and forge relationships with bloggers, podcasters, and others covering news topics in your industry.
PR is a great way to increase the overall strength of your brand. When Google sees positive brand signals about your brand springing up in different places on the internet, it will be more likely to rank you higher in the search results. This can help you capture even more of the Google real estate for your targeted keywords. And when your audience sees you in the news, it strengthens brand perception, likely leading to a higher click-through rate for your standard rankings.
Depending on the keyword, frequently asked questions (FAQs) about a topic can appear in the Google SERPs, occupying valuable real estate on the screen. Clicking on one of these questions expands it and provides an answer.
Beyond FAQs appearing in the SERP in between rankings on the page, you can also use FAQ structured data to become eligible for FAQ content to specifically appear along with your organic listing in the SERPs.
Either way, FAQs are one more tool for capturing more of the SERP.
Microsites and Off-Domain Blogs
Having a website, microsite, or blog that is separate from your primary website provides additional ways to dominate the Google landscape. Complementary websites, microsites, and blogs can be used to target niche topics and share more detailed information.
While they won’t necessarily rank better than your primary website (depending on the keyword), they can help you claim more of the search results. By having multiple sites, you can target non-branded keywords both from your domain and from the off-domain sites. As all of these start to rank in the search results, you start to dominate the SERP while pushing competitors lower and out of view.
One company that took this approach is Arrow Electronics. They acquired more than 50 media websites, including EE Times, EDN, Datasheets.com, SiliconExpert, and EEWeb, and essentially became the media in their industry in order to better target their audience of electrical engineers. Talk about increasing one’s SEO horsepower!
Writing articles and publishing them on authoritative, third-party websites is a highly effective way to strengthen your brand equity and “own” yet more of the search results.
Think about it. If the third-party site is well-established and authoritative, there’s a good chance it will show up in the search results for numerous queries you’re targeting. If your name is associated with that site, it passes some of its earned authority to your brand. You gain through the expanded coverage in the SERP, while strengthening brand perception at the same time. And again, every Google ranking that is focused on your brand is one more example where your competitors are being pushed down the page and out of view.
Social media posts, such as Tweets, allow you to demonstrate the personality of your brand. They are a great way to engage with your audience and show them that you are more than a faceless entity. They also are a way for you to share your knowledge of relevant subjects and position yourself as an expert in your industry.
If you want your social media posts to show in the search results, you need to be regularly sharing valuable, relevant information with your audience. You can’t post once a month and expect to appear in the search results. You need to be active and engaged with your audience.
The knowledge panel is the box on the right-hand side of the search results. It includes basic information about a topic such as the definition, facts, images, etc. It is a valuable piece of real estate in the search results.
To capture a spot in the knowledge panel, you need to have accurate information about your brand on sites such as Google Business Profile, Wikipedia, etc. You also need to ensure that you are actively managing your brand’s presence on these sites. This means making sure everything is up-to-date and accurate.
Paid Search Ads
If you want to own every square inch of the search results, you may need to also invest money in paid search ads for your top priority keywords. Doing so will allow you to appear at the very top of the page. Plus, they come with the added bonus of being highly targeted.
Paid search ads are a complementary way to ensure that your brand is seen by searchers for your money pages such as your product, service, solution, and category pages. Just be aware that paid search is expensive and is typically not cost-effective for top-of-the-funnel keywords.
Stratabeat Achieved Explosive Organic Traffic Gains for a Client in a Hyper-Competitive VerticalSee How
The war for attention is getting fiercer every year. To win bigger, you should think bigger.
Remember, the search results are a zero-sum game. If you’re not occupying rankings in the Google top 10, someone else is. But for every incremental ranking you achieve, you necessarily are pushing others down the SERP, giving you a clear advantage in grabbing your audience’s attention and guiding them to engage with your brand.
Aim to achieve as many Google rankings as possible for each of your priority SEO keywords. To that end:
- Optimize your pages and posts
- Optimize for SERP features such as images, videos, FAQs, questions for PAAs, etc.
- Build a microsite or off-domain blog to capture even more rankings for the same keywords
- Capitalize on offsite PR opportunities for greater coverage, such as through interviews and byline articles on authoritative sites for the same SEO keywords as you’re targeting in your onsite content
In your SEO program, go beyond an approach that limits you to one ranking for each keyword you target. Instead, think bigger and aim to dominate the page!