Together with an SEO friend, I did a round of SERPing through the American version of Google. We were shocked by what we saw, but I also felt a kind of joy; on non-branded search terms we saw even more new things that we do not yet have in the Netherlands. And we also saw how these new features push the regular SEO results even more out of the picture, which of course we hated. But we also saw what new opportunities this offers especially for brands to rank on non-branded search terms.
Note: Please note that this article is updated regularly. There is also an article with what is happening in the Dutch SERP and what this means for you.
List with brandsnames on non-branded search terms
Not yet in the Netherlands, but spotted in the US. On a non-branded search term (yoga mats) you can see that Google comes up with a list of popular brands based on “sources on the web”. We saw this result prominently displayed on a non-branded search term, above the SEO results and directly includes a link to the websites listed. If Google mentions you in this, it’s obviously worth its weight in gold.
How you get there is not entirely clear, but given the hint (from sources across the web) I have a vague suspicion (or is it hope?) that Google does this based on mentions: how often do other websites talk about your brand? So another reason to get serious about branding and making sure people are talking about your brand. It’s up to you to make sure that you set up and execute an outreach strategy where the main goal is that people start talking about you. It is possible that links still secretly play an important role in the creation of the list, but it could just be that Google is trying to see if it can come up with a nice list without links (which I hope it will!).
Dropdowns in Knowledge Graphs
Also interesting: drop-down features prominently displayed. In the Netherlands you sometimes see a Wikipedia result in a Knowledge Graph with 1-2 drop-downs below it on some searches, in the US you see 3-4 drop-downs on almost every non-branded search such as ‘Good brand’ in the example below.
In this screenshot you can see that Google gives space to lists containing various products in that spot. In this example, they themselves came up with the ‘Good brand’ drop-down where you’ll see another list of best products. A good reason why you want to be in someone else’s list.
Can’t compete with the big players for regular SEO results? Then these extra drop-downs directly under Ads may offer new opportunities in the future: your information directly under information from Wikipedia. You often see them precisely on non-branded top keywords as in this example: dishwasher. Google shows this result directly below the Ads, so above the People Also Ask and above the regular SEO results.
Depending on the search you will see other drop downs, often with specifications or facts. If you search for wine you will see drop downs containing ‘Cheese’, ‘Temperature’ or ‘Cooking’. In comparison, in NL I only see ‘nutritional value’ for the search term ‘wine’. If you search for ‘Dishwasher’ you will see ‘Size’, ‘Width’, ‘Power consumption’ and ‘Temperature’ in the US.
Make sure you have good content about this with a focus on the things people want to know and who knows, you will be among them, both as a manufacturer and as a shop. How do you do this? Sit down and see what specifications, facts, uses, etc. your product evokes, put them in a row and make good content for each point where you explain.
Listicles, listicles, listicles
On non-branded searches, you’re increasingly seeing a People also ask/ People also ask; a module with 4-5 different questions. How exactly your content gets in there is not entirely clear. Presumably it’s in relevance and authority, because that’s almost always the case. Especially the question “What is the best x”, offers great opportunities for brands.
You almost always see lists of the best brands or products according to independent sites. If you manage to appear in these lists with your brand or product, you can easily “hitchhike” on the visibility of the party that makes the lists. Condition is of course that you really make cool/beautiful/awesome products otherwise you fall through the cracks.
Step 1 on the way to more visibility within SEO is in my opinion to look for the websites that make lists and ask them if they want to review your products and let you know what they think.
Apparently, Google loves lists and likes to show them on non-branded search terms. One caveat I have to make here: if these new features are completely spammed, it will of course be over soon. As soon as, for example, visibility in lists is no longer earned but has become a business model and the value has been reduced to 0, you can be sure that they will disappear or rather: that Google will replace them for reliable, independent agencies that do not sell a place in a list.
User Generated content in People Also Ask
I have not seen this phenomenon in the Netherlands before in the People also ask, but I have in the American version of PAA (People also ask). I was looking for a specific product of Elizabeth Arden, namely the product Flawless Start. I see directly below the ads in the People also ask/People also ask the triggering question: Is Elizabeth Arden Flawless Start good? Mega relevant of course so I clicked on it and the content connected seamlessly.
But it turns out, it was from a review on a website that sells this product. So a good reason to collect User Generated Content like reviews because Google can come up with its own question for the content, so in theory any content can now be properly visible in the PAA. And how do you get content easier than by having your customer provide it?
Something I have not seen in NL yet either, but I have seen in the US: Related to. In this case the search query was ‘tompouce’. Google can very well relate that to, in this case, Mille-feuille, a cake that consists of a thousand layers. Clever way for Google to keep people in their own environment by presenting them with a follow-up search that they might also find interesting. The possibilities are endless if Google is indeed able to make connections on a large scale: soccer related to soccer boots, Ajax (related an Ajax t-shirt) etc.
How do you get in the middle of this?
Good question, it’s a bit like SEO within SEO but with fewer spots. Does Google pick a player with good content, a reliable name or a heavy link profile? Or is it the combination of all of these that still gives newcomers with good content little chance to be among them? What is worrying is that Google is actually moving the 10 spots that were once there for SEO out of the picture and giving back a minimal number of spots that are in the picture. Is this the prospect of SEO in a few years? A few spots in mega good places with only 1 result?
Will these SERP features also come to the Netherlands?
Good question, whether these new features will come in the Netherlands we do not know. However, there are two reasons to keep an eye on the developments in the US: 1. we see what Google is doing and can therefore be better prepared and 2. you can start preparing in time for these new opportunities under the motto: it doesn’t hurt to do it.