Has Google Killed Organic Search on Mobile?

Mobile usage is on the rise. So why is exposing your business to mobile savvy consumers more difficult than ever? It’s a paradox that sums up the misery many small businesses are experiencing today when it comes to their mobile SEO.

In a perfect world, search engines are utopias of fairness where every mom and pop shop can reasonably compete with big box behemoths. Organic results generate 8.5x more clicks than ads, neutralizing the buying power of big companies and keeping the playing field even. Of course, this so-called meritocracy is contingent on organic search, you know, mattering.

And that’s what is so disturbing about the latest trend on Google Mobile. The algorithm places less priority on organic results and more on paid ads, Google My Business (GMB) listings, articles, reviews and more.

To see how far organic search has slipped on Search Engine Results Pages, Google “Pizza Detroit.” Don’t feel like it? OK, I’ll save you the time. Here’s the order of what appears starting at the top of the page.

  • A map of three GMB listings
  • Information about each of these businesses
  • A Thrillist article
  • Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMPs)
  • Tweets about pizza
  • First organic result (Supino Pizzeria)

As you can see, the first organic result doesn’t appear until you’ve already scrolled almost halfway down the page. Even more disheartening is that once you’ve penetrated the organic results, only two other pizza restaurants appear. The rest of the slots are occupied by articles, reviews and more.

That’s right: A grand total of three restaurants appear organically on Page 1. To see more organic listings, you have to click through to the next page. That may not seem like a big deal until you consider that Page 1 results garner a whopping 95 percent of all search traffic.

The importance of being on Page 1 is immense. That’s the whole reason SEO has become a focal point of most marketing strategies. But with so few organic slots available, even businesses that follow best practices to the letter may not get the results they desire.

So what does all of this mean?

While Google hasn’t killed organic search per se, it’s definitely crippled it. So the question becomes ‘How do you stay relevant?’ Here are a few tips that will help give your business a Page 1 presence, even if it’s not in the desirable organic results area.

  • Google Your Business: If you haven’t registered your business on Google, it is almost certainly hurting your SEO. Registering your business is free and easy, and in most cases a well-optimized GMB will receive ranking priority over competing sites.
  • Buy Ads: We know, the whole reason you invest in SEO is to avoid paid search. But here’s the thing: 60 percent of all searches now come from mobile devices. Paid search gets priority now, and your marketing budget needs to reflect that.
  • “Accelerate” Your Website: Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) are a Google-backed initiative to make mobile pages load faster, thus creating a better user experience. AMPs are usually displayed as a carousel below paid ads and GMB results, but above organic results. You can learn more about AMPs here.

Mobile marketing requires more detail and precision than ever. Contact the experts at Rebuild Group to get your strategy on point so you can compete in an increasingly hostile environment.