I remember the first time I was amazed by the increasing number of SERP features my website was getting. “This must mean I’m doing a good job”, I thought. It wasn’t untill I took a closer look at my analytics data that I discovered the full truth…
Impressions ≠ Traffic
By definition, Impressions are the number of times any URL from your site appeared in search results viewed by a user, not including paid AdWords search impressions. Of course it would be foolish to think that 20 impressions = 20 visitors.
But did you ever look at how big the gap really is? Over 80% of impressions do not pass on traffic to your website. According to Tim Soulo, at Ahrefs, only 19% of searches result in clicks on the actual search results.
So basically only 1/5 of all impressions are returning users. Here are 5 reasons why.
Impressions are tracked even if they aren’t seen
Unfortunatelly, yes. If you dig a little deeper through Google`s Search Console documentation, you’ll find another definition for impressions: How many links to your site a user saw on Google search results, even if the link was not scrolled into view.
So even if your URL is not into view, but is present on the results page, Google counts an impression. However, if your URL is on page 2, and the user only views page 1, the impression is not counted.
(In)Exact keyword matching
Yes, this is a common problem and Google is working hard on delivering relevant results. But there still are irrelevant pages ranking for specific keywords.
For example, if you search for “beef burger restaurant”, none of the first 3 results contain the exact keyword. Although all 3 sites talk about burgers, beef and restaurants, none of them is actually a nearby beef burger restaurant.
According to a research by Ahrefs, almost 75% of pages that rank in top10 for a given keyword don’t have even a single mention of that exact-match keyword anywhere on the page.
Featured snippets are answer boxes to user queries which extract brief information from the top ranking results. Most of the time the feature snippet isn’t extracted from the number 1 ranking page, but from others down below, as far as #8.
On result pages with featured snippets, the page ranking #1 gets less than 20% of all clicks. But without snippets, the click-through rate is 26%. So featured snippets are bottlenecking around 5% of CTR.
Accelerated Mobile Pages
AMP is basically a feature that allows you to create a faster, more user friendly version of your website`s page. The AMP version is stored in Google’s Cache, and not on the owner’s own server.
However, the AMP page does not redirect to the original article, even upon exit (clicking back), but it redirects to the SERP it was featured on. In order to visit the website, the user must click the colored bar at the top of the AMP (if said bar is present) or copy the URL into the adress bar.
Although it is hard to quantify the loss of mobile traffic due to AMPs clunkiness, it’s clear that this is an issue.
The Knowledge Graph is a knowledge base used by Google and its services to enhance its search engine’s results with information gathered from a variety of sources. This information is presented to users in a box to the right of search results.
Much like the featured snippets, knowledge graphs cand be extracted from results at the bottom of the SERP. Moreover, due to the quality of the information provided in KGs, users don’t need to visit websites from the results page.
And with 92% of all clicks going to the first 4 results it’s clear that users won’t scroll further down.
A proper SEO overhaul should fix most ot the problems mentioned here. However, know that no magic can be done without a thorough keyword research. Good luck!