Google is looking to steal your website traffic…and improve your UX

“Google is coming for your website traffic.” Sounds dramatic, but really they want to provide your searcher with a better experience.

The problem begins with rapidly-increasing user expectations of online experiences – thanks to Uber etc. – but our own websites haven’t caught up yet.

Take speed for example. In Google’s latest research released earlier this year, the time it takes to load the average mobile landing page is 22 seconds. Would you hang around that long? Probably not. In fact, the same study showed that 53 per cent of people will leave if loading takes longer than three seconds. So, there’s a huge gap between user expectation and reality.

It’s not always about speed, but speed is a big factor in our user experience. Some sites also make it hard to find other important information like their contact details or trading hours.

So, Google is essentially stepping in.

Let’s look at a few instances.

Accelerated mobile pages

Google is encouraging online publishers to implement accelerated mobile pages (AMPs). It provides a trimmed down version of their posts in search results. That strips a lot of the bloated code so that a page loads lightning fast. This is just for mobile. You’re likely to get higher visibility in Google’s search results, but your ability to then move your visitor through your traditional funnel is limited.

Featured snippets

You’ve seen them, they’re the answer boxes at the top of Google’s search engine result pages (SERPs). At this stage, there are three formats including paragraphs, lists and tables. They answer a whole range of questions, from flight times and the weather through to how to fix a leaky tap. They’re great for the user and they may increase your site traffic in many cases, but it’s not for everyone. For example, do you search for movie-related queries? Think about what snippets have done to IMDB’s web traffic.

Knowledge graph

Search for your business. If you’ve set up your Google My Business profile you should see your business details on the right (on your desktop). Optimise your profile and your searcher will have just about everything they need to see, including contacts, reviews, trading hours and access to directions. For several standard queries, there’s going to be little need for the user to click through to your website.

Questions and answers

People can now search for your business and browse questions and answers submitted by other people. For example, one person might submit a question (remember they’re still in Google) about parking facilities near your store. You respond. This info is then recorded and will likely prove useful to more and more of your searchers. This is great for you because your potential customers are receiving a better search experience, but it also means Google is stealing your traffic.

Reserve with Google

Google has been piloting a new project that will initially allow customers to book fitness and beauty appointments directly from their search results.

For example, if you’re a Pilates studio in Australia you’re likely to be using MindBody, a third-party booking solution. They are one of the initial partners of the Reserve with Google project. So, instead of asking people to go from Google to your Pilates website and then onto MindBody to book their class, they’ll be able to do it much faster directly from Google. But then they are also bypassing your site.

Watch out for voice search

Voice searches are being made every day via online assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Google’s Home. These assistants are only delivering one answer to voice searchers. So, what if you’re ranking two, three, four or five in the search? What about the visit to your website?

Quentin Aisbett, Digital Strategist, OnQ Marketing

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