Type in a random keyword like “mortgage” into Google search and what do you see?
Chances are there will be a small block of copy (or graphical call-out) next to your search results or somewhere below the first 1 or 2 sponsored ads. Moz did a nice Whiteboard Friday on the topic here.
Short Tail Searches
A study quoted in the Whiteboard Friday claimed 18-19% of Google searches include short answers or knowledge graph blocks in Google search results. This change to search results creates a real challenge for some SEO and marketing teams. Often, these blocks of content will show up above the #1 organic position, pushing the natural organic search results further down the page. They also tend to show up for 1 and 2 word keyword results with generally higher volume. While these 1 or 2 word phrases may not be the best keywords to convert sales or leads, they still provide a good way for some websites to generate a ton of brand awareness without paying for it in Google AdWords.
Google Grabs Top of the Funnel
Google’s intent with Answer Boxes & Knowledge Graph is to capture searchers near the very top of the funnel and provide them with helpful research tools and content. The boxes have the added benefit of reducing a click and keeping people on the search page. When visitors are more certain of what they need, typically an additional search is what they perform. Personally, I find some of the results to be helpful and others to be a little annoying. Many times when I research, I don’t want to visit Wikipedia or WebMD for every search. I’m looking for a more in-depth article from an authority or reliable source in the industry.
Focus on the “Long-Tail”
The phrase long tail has been used to describe keywords beyond the 1 and 2 word keyword searches. The key takeaway from the video and article is that marketers need to focus more attention on capturing more specific searches further down the research and buying cycle (long-tail searches) so they can convert more visitors. The idea that a company must rank well for 1 word (or even some 2 word) vanity keywords is very much a 2003 idea of how SEO must work.
Full Whiteboard Video from Moz
If you’re interested in the full video from Moz, I’ve included it below.