Survey Says SEO Will BOOM During Downturn

In this video

Hello everyone and welcome to the Canonical Chronicle. We are 3 weeks into the lockdown and we are seeing the industry getting back to work and some news trickle through... finally!

  • So in this episode we discuss Google's decision to postpone changes to the partner program, which will mean agencies can retain partner status whilst helping their clients get back on their feet and pivot into a new online environment.

  • We go over a new survey by Conduct that says SEO will Boom during the downturn and we discuss what we feel you should be doing as a Business Owner in these uncertain times:

    • Look for constants and build around those

    • Build assets with compounding value

    • Make your money work harder and build cash moats around your business

  • We hear about a UK high court judge telling Google they need to show an SEO person their ranking algorithm documents or withdraw them as evidence against their alleged “search bias” in the search results.

  • We also take a look at how Google is changing the appearance of Featured Snippets and the ramifications and we see Google issue new advice on generating structured data with Javascript.

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I’m Ross Tavendale, the managing director of Type A Media, a creative search agency based in London. I make videos about business leadership, web technology, SEO, PPC and how I turned being a Type A personality into a business.


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- So, being a Google partner is like having a high-maintenance girlfriend. You need to be constantly on your game impressing them with high-optimisation score, and you need to bleed money out of your eyes every 90 days, $20,000 to be exact just to keep them around. So imagine the scene where you spend the last three years building up your client's PPC spend to hit that Google Partners' threshold and then you start celebrating. ♪ Ah ya ya ya ya ♪ And then all of a sudden, a global pandemic causes you to slash your clients' budgets to almost zero, disqualifying you as a Google Partner because you don't hit the threshold. You then cry silently into your tea at night and contemplate your new normal.

- No, no, no. No, no.

- But fear not, you can dry your eyes, mate, as Google have decided to postpone the brand new partner program until changes in 2021. This means that although your budgets are probably an all-time low, and your business is in the gutter, you can still show that little partner badge on your website, which, you know, consolidation prize.

- Anybody wanna see second prize? Second prize is a set of steak knives.

- And in all seriousness, this is quite a gracious move by the big G. It means that agencies can keep their partner status while they help their clients get back on their feet and pave it into something new and rebuild their ad spend again. Now, you don't need to be a rocket scientist to know that there's a lot of businesses suffering from the economic downturn. And as we're only a few months into it, the future is really unclear.

- Damn. I can't see fucking shit out of this thing.

- So, a new survey by Conductor, a company that sells SEO tools, has suggested that most business owners are actually reporting that SEO was their best channel and is likely to see either maintain the budget or even a slight uptick during the economic downturn. In particular, most people said that there would be a slight decrease in overall marketing spend, but SEO is likely to stay the same. We dive into the data. We can actually see here by this graph that resoundingly it looks like SEO might actually be getting more spend on it. ♪ Oh, we're in the money ♪ ♪ The sky is sunny ♪ But here's the thing. We've got absolutely no idea what's gonna happen over the next few years, so as business owners, we need to do three things. First, we got to look for constants. Second, we got to build assets that compound in value. And we've got to make our money work much, much harder and fill the big money moat around the business. So, what does a constant mean when we're talking about business? Well, a constant for us is either health, wealth, or happiness. They're never gonna go out of style as we all kind of fundamentally want them as humans. Now, this is gonna mean different things to different people at different stages in their life. For example, five-year-old Ross, he found happiness in kicking a football against a wall. 12-year-old Ross, well he found happiness in building little fires in the middle of the woods. 17-year-old Ross found happiness in an annual subscription to Kleenex. And 25-year-old Ross found happiness in taking big business adventures. But nowadays, 31-year-old Ross finds happiness when he gets a month of no back pain and no haemorrhoids. For your business, find out what you can do to make your customers' either health, wealth, or happiness go up. And if you're selling things from lamps to gourmet tea, to IPAs, to bridging loans to CCTV installations, whatever it is, there's always something you can do to build into your products or service to bring those to people. Next is building assets with compounding value. So, I used to say to my clients paid media is like burning fuel, and SEO is like lifting weights. So when you spend money on your ads, you get instant return, but once you burn that fuel, that is gone. You need more fuel. But with SEO, as you keep kind of making that compelling content, like the Canonical Chronicle, please subscribe, you're gonna see the value returned to you over time. Next is making your money work harder in building moats. So for every penny you spend, you'll want to perfectly match it to KPIs that support revenue growth, whether that's email subscribers or ranking movement or more footfall to your store. Every penny that goes into marketing needs to wash its face and shows a very obvious ROI. And thankfully at Type A media, the MD is me, a stingy Scotsman.

- One million, two million, three million, four!

- So we've thankfully got enough of a cash moat in there to make sure that we're gonna be okay through the pandemic. Now, by now, we all know the EU thinks Google is a very naughty boy.

- Now you listen here. He's not the Messiah. He's a very naughty boy. Now go away.

- For example, in a recent lawsuit filed in 2013 by shopping comparison site Foundem, the site argued that Google punished them by demoting their results and putting their own shopping results at the top. But looking at their site, I think it was their graphic designer that was punishing them.

- Please, hello, can I redesign your logo? Yes, that'll be 100,000 pounds for a squiggle.

- But here we are almost seven years later, and the shoes is very much on the other foot as the UK High Court judges are telling Google they need to show an SEO person their ranking algorithm documents or withdraw evidence against their alleged search bias and search results. So Google's now got this impossible dilemma. Do you give away the family jewels, or do you let us look behind the curtain? Now this is a huge deal, as it's the first time the court has ever ordered Google to give away such prized information. Now as this case moves forward, they might actually end up giving away the family jewels in order to avoid another multi-billion pound fine. Who knows. So, we've all seen featured snippets. That's the big box at the top that shows information at the top of the search. And it kind of dominates everything above the fold. Well, it looks like they're now going to get moved slightly further down the SERPs based on some reports that are happening around search engine land. In particular, report details that the snippets are now in the middle of the SERP, and they're closer to a traditional knowledge panel box and not like an answer box. So, if you don't know the difference, a knowledge panel box can be seen when you type in things like what is vitamin C, like this. It usually shows up as a panel on the right, and sometimes it's in a main SERP at the top of the page as well. And an answer box is something that provides a direct answer to something you type in. So, for example, when we search for the price of bitcoin, we get this answer and also a live result. However, these new snippet boxes look very different to what we're used to seeing. In particular, they have an auto-generated title and description that looks very much like a Wikipedia scrape. The other thing is they've got multiple images at the top of the box as well, and they've also got a people-also-ask section at the bottom of the box. It's kind of like a SERP within a SERP. So interestingly these new featured snippets seem to be checkered by completely normal words, where the traditional ones are triggered with normal kind of questions. So, as SEOs, what should we look at for in your traffic? Well, to be honest with you, when we see traditional featured snippets, they tend to increase your impressions. The reason they do that is because they show multiple links, and Google's counting that as multiple impressions. So inside of your search console, if you're seeing a large impression increase but not commensurate clicks, that's what's happening. Now, at present, there isn't really a way to actually optimise this other than good structured data across the site and also things like just making sure that you're a known entity with clean information about who you are and the multiple databases that Google uses to kind of power the knowledge graph. So that's making sure you've got things like name, address, phone number, NEP, all sorted across the web. So when most SEOs get a new client, and lander site is run off of JavaScript, we all have a kind of similar response.

- No!

- However, as the technology becomes a lot more ubiquitous, in the web, and Google gets much better at understanding it, we're finding ourselves actually liking it a little bit more. Now, this is especially when we're talking about injecting structured data, it's usually schema, into a page with JSON-LD. Now, at Type A, we've been using Tag Manager to inject structured data for, maybe about five or six years now. But there was a bit of controversy about it on a web master hangout because John Miller actually came out and said that this approach may not actually get your structured data picked up by Google. However, in Google Flash, they've done a complete 360. They've updated their guidelines, which can now be found on the following link. Essentially what they're saying is you can inject it via JavaScript and via JSON-LD, via Tag Manager. No problem at all. Well, that's everything for this week's Canonical Chronicle, another lockdown edition. Feeling proud that we got the SEO as tech neon back in. If you liked it, please like the video. If you loved it, please subscribe. Subscribe to our email list as well if you'd like the free deck that goes with this. And until next time, we will see you later.