GET FRESH CONTENT DELIVERED (IT’S FREE)

Join over 155,000 people who get free and fresh content delivered automatically
each time we publish. Your privacy and email address are safe with us!

5 SEO Studies to Inspire Your Strategic Outlook for 2020

One of the best ways to cultivate new SEO strategies is by exploring various studies, data, research, and trends in the field. 

Not only is staying on top of the latest SEO studies an important habit to help you stay informed and educated, but discovering compelling search data can also offer you renewed perspective. 

In many cases, a well-researched study can reshape how we think about SEO. Most importantly, new insights can lend to new opportunities that we may be overlooking. 

So to go beyond the clutter of generic SEO surveys and expert roundups, here are five SEO studies to help inspire your strategic outlook for 2020.

1. Direct Traffic is the Most Important Ranking Factor

While content, links, and engagement are often the most popular topics of conversation in the SEO community, the most influential Google organic ranking factor rarely gets enough attention: direct website traffic. 

As the latest ranking factor study conducted by SEMrush supports, Google sees direct traffic as the most important ranking factor in organic search, just below a few key engagement metrics, like time on site and pages per session.

Direct TrafficDirect website traffic simply accounts for the users who visit a site directly from the browser bar without searching Google or clicking a link on another site. Similar to backlink signals, Google sees this behavioral factor as a valid indication of a website’s credibility and value. 

This SEO study alone underscores the importance of having a diversified marketing strategy that extends well beyond Google search. Consider expanding a brand’s marketing mix to include some of the following ideas:

  • Sponsor events, trade shows, and conferences to build brand awareness.
  • Invest in high-impression offline advertising (i.e. billboards, direct mail, etc.) to drive users to your website.
  • Consider joining certain groups and business networks, such as your area’s chamber of commerce (sometimes the citation and referral link alone is worth the membership fee).
  • Start building an email list (if you haven’t been building one already) and leverage email marketing to promote sales, content, and your brand.
  • Consider donating to charities or volunteering your work to a worthwhile cause.

2. On Average, #1 Ranking Pages Will Also Rank for 1,000+ Other Keywords

If you have viewed the Organic Keywords feature in Google Analytics, then you’ve probably noticed that a vast majority of traffic comes from (Not Provided)

Using our website CaptivateSEO.com as an example, a whopping 98% of keywords are grouped in this seemingly useless label.

SEO Keywords

Ahref’s Also Rank for Study clearly articulates what’s going on here. The study set out to determine: just how many keywords will an average page rank for? What the study found is quite compelling.   

The data shows that an average #1 ranking page will also rank in the top 10 (or on page one of Google) for nearly 1,000 other relevant keywords.

Top 20 Keyword RankingsStill a bit confused? Here’s a simple scenario that helps illustrate the study’s findings into a real-world situation. 

Let’s pretend you’ve decided to compete in your first triathlon. 

Curiously, you ask Google: “What is the distance of a triathlon?” A top ranking article for that search query also happens to rank for hundreds of iterations of the question being asked, a few of which are:

  • “triathlon distances”
  • “how long is a triathlon”
  • “triathlon distances miles”
  • “ironman triathlon distances”
  • “sprint triathlon distances”
  • “what are the distances of a sprint triathlon”

Hopefully that makes better sense. There are many ways to phrase the search query, but the underlying intent is often the same. 

This is often why Google shows (not provided) as the top keyword in Analytics, because there are so many different and unique possible queries, many of which share largely the same context.

This concept applies across many different situations. For instance, a common mistake SEO companies and strategizers still make today is having several hyper-focused pages to cover the same keyword theme and user intent model. 

For example, they have redundant pages that target keywords like “SEO Company,” “Search Engine Optimization Company,” “SEO Agency,” “Search Engine Optimization Firm,” etc., which are all synonymous with the same model. 

While this may have worked in 2001, it’s a great way to dilute the SEO work on your site and create confusion as to which page Google should rank.

Instead, it’s better to create one piece of content that can rank for numerous variations of the same keyword theme. Consider taking a more consolidated approach and targeting specific user intent models rather than individual keywords, whether with your content strategy or internal pages of your site.

As a final example, take a look at this link building guide from WordStream and all of the different #1 rankings it has achieved in just one piece of content:

Wordstream Link Building

3. Local Searches Containing “Near Me” Have Increased 222% in the 3 Years

While not an official study, we pulled this local SEO data ourselves from Google Trends. In just three years (2016 to 2019), local queries containing “near me” have grown 222% worldwide. 

The “near me” trend is no secret to the SEO community. 

So beyond discussing just how popular these localized queries have gotten over the years, it’s also important that we emphasize how businesses can better position themselves by optimizing for these queries.

Near Me Searches

The local SEO strategies we typically recommend in this context include:

  • Claim and optimize a business’s Google My Business listing
  • Implement LocalBusiness schema markup on your site, which can help improve visibility for “near me” search queries.
  • Have a responsive, mobile-friendly site across all devices, which is vital to be competitive for “near me” searches.
  • Incorporate certain on-page SEO techniques, which can help increase local relevance for “near me” related search queries.
  • Leverage Google Ads to bid on relevant keywords that contain “near me” or “nearby.” 

4. Social Signals Often Correlate to Higher Rankings

Although social signals (such as Facebook Likes, LinkedIn Shares, Tweets, Retweets, Pins, etc.) are not explicitly stated as Google ranking factors, data by Cognitive SEO indicates that social signals do correlate with better rankings.

The first part of Cognitive SEO’s research observed the overall social presence in relation to how the site ranks. The research found that the average number of shares, comments, and likes on social media platforms correlated to a higher Google ranking.

Social Networks

More specifically, the study showed that a stronger presence on Facebook is linked to better rankings. The data highlighted the top 3 ranking sites as all having significantly higher Facebook Likes, Shares, and Comments than the rest of the sites ranking on page one.

In essence, social media affects SEO because all of this sharing adds up to more visibility of a site’s content. If more and more people share a piece of content on social media, then it’s far more likely that people will link to it from blogs, press releases, and other publications. 

And as we know, backlinks are still hugely influential ranking factors.

5. SEO is 10x More Powerful in Driving Traffic Than Social

Data from BrightEdge, one of the industry’s leading sources of SEO data and intelligence, suggests that an overall majority of all traffic across the Internet comes from organic search. 

Specifically, 51% of all website traffic comes from organic search, while a mere 10% stems from paid search, 5% from social media, and 34% from all other sources, like direct, referral and email. 

That translates to SEO being 10-times more powerful than social media in generating traffic to a site. That’s not to say social media isn’t an important channel for traffic. 

But the findings do shed light on how some brands might want to prioritize their marketing budgets.  

Sure, for some brands and local businesses, investing a healthy portion of a marketing budget into social media is a smart play. 

But if those same types of businesses are not blogging or producing any content internally to share on their social platforms, then they’re missing out on major social and SEO opportunities.

In other words, having a cohesive content marketing strategy that combines SEO and social media packs the biggest punch, not just for generating traffic, but also for building awareness, audiences, and trust. 

Additionally, much of the same effort in producing and sharing content can be repurposed for email marketing.

Related FAQs

How do you analyze SEO data?

SEO data is often very granular and requires meticulous analysis and distillation. For instance, two of the most common forms of SEO data are keyword search volume and search trends. 

When analyzing this data, it’s important to understand the nature of the keywords and how they’ll be applied. Not only does keyword analysis help reveal the most relevant search queries and how popular they are, but such data can help instruct how pages are named and organized on a site. 

For example, a search query like “triathlon training tips” will likely be most applicable as a blog post, article, or video, while “triathlon training coach” is better suited for a static inside page of a site. 

Analyzing search trends can also indicate the best time to publish, feature, and/or “boost” content on certain social platforms. 

While many different aspects go into analyzing SEO data, it’s important to extract insights that are most relevant and applicable to your strategy, rather than choosing keywords that are most popular.  

How can I improve my SEO strategy?

Search engine algorithms, corresponding ranking factors, and SEO best practices are in constant flux. Achieving top search visibility requires more than just strategic application of target keywords and a healthy balance of backlinks. 

Now more than ever, successful SEO strategies thrive on multi-channel brand building, authenticity, and adaptability. 

Not only is it important to provide a quality user experience and offer valuable content, but also employing technical SEO and schema markup, content marketing, and social media are all integral components to a successful SEO strategy.

Why should I use Google Analytics for SEO?

There are many reasons why SEO professionals choose Google Analytics over alternative web analytics platforms. 

Not only is it free to use, but the level of basic implementation is very simple and easy to integrate, especially with other tools and platforms like Google Search Console and Google Ads

In addition to being widely universal and accessible, Google Analytics is favored for its ability to customize reports and interpret key metrics, such as understanding why and where visitors are bouncing. 

By default, Google Analytics enables marketers to know the age, gender, interest, device and location of a site or app’s visitors, which in itself lends to valuable marketing data. 

Lastly, it’s a platform that helps websites and apps achieve their goals with seamless event tracking and goal setup capabilities.

How is local SEO different from organic SEO?

With organic SEO, the objective is to help increase a website’s visibility in the organic search results, which typically appear just below the local pack (when present) and any paid ads that show at the top of the search results. 

The ranking factors that determine the organic search listings (i.e. on-site variables, backlinks, user engagement, etc.) are very different from that of the local pack or Google Maps listings. 

These latter two listings, which are the central focus of local SEO, hinge on different factors like Google My Business, citations, customer reviews, business location, user proximity, and other unique variables.

Which is Better: SEO or Social Media Marketing?

The ultimate answer to this question is: it depends on the brand. As the SEO study above alludes to, search offers far greater value in driving relevant traffic to a site. 

However, social media marketing can help get your content in front of more people quicker. Additionally, the more people who see value in your content on social media, the greater the chances are that others will link to it. 

In most cases, it’s advised to balance both SEO and social media marketing, as they are supplementary channels. Oftentimes, the content developed with SEO intentions can be fueled when shared and promoted on social media. 

However, solely investing in just social media will mean neglecting one of the most valuable sources of traffic: search.

10 Incredible Tips to Leverage Content Marketing on a Budget

Every company that needs to establish a strong online presence spends on content marketing. This includes blog posts, Q and As, social media marketing, infographics, banners, etc. They’re all very good investments to target a niche audience. Continue reading…

9 Proven Ecommerce Marketing Techniques to Boost Your Online Sales

9 Proven Ecommerce Marketing Techniques

Are you struggling to pick up the right e-commerce strategies that will help drive traffic, conversions, and sales? Well, the thing is, marketing is one of the most important aspects that you need to consider when launching an e-commerce store. Once you have chosen products to sell, you might be wondering how you can drive […]

Continue reading...

How To Do Competitive Analysis In 2020: A Step-by-step Guide

How to Do a Competitive Analysis in 2020_ A Step-by-step Guide-2

Competitive analysis is, in a nutshell, is the process of gathering and analyzing data about your competitors, mainly to compare their strengths and weaknesses when compared to yours. The main idea is that the better we understand our competitors, the more effective we can outsmart them. However, although it’s a fairly simple concept, the execution […]

Continue reading...

5 Tips To Expand Your Brand’s Presence And Reach

For any business, the quality of products and services always plays a vital role in its growth. Nobody can deny this. But what if customers are not even remotely aware of your existence in the first place? The answer is very simple. No one will reach out to you for any transaction and, within little […]

Continue reading...

How Social Media Supports SEO for Small Businesses

How Social Media Supports SEO for Small Businesses

In the United States alone, there are over 30.7 million small businesses, making up over 90% of the business population of the country. With so many competitive businesses in various industries, setting your brand apart from the competition is vital for a steady growth rate, improved sales revenue, and a boost in your market share.

Continue reading...

7 Emerging E-commerce Marketing Trends

E Commerce Marketing Trends

Ecommerce is the preferred way to shop these days. According to Disruptive Marketing, 80% of Americans have made an online purchase in the past month alone. Because a majority of consumers are choosing to interact with brands this way, businesses must strive to remain competitive and efficient. Adapting to emerging marketing trends is the key […]

Continue reading...

Social Media Strategies to Get More Followers on Twitter

Organic Twitter Growth Last Update In this modern world, we all crave external validation. We want our Instagram pictures to be flooded with likes and our Tweets to be shared enormously. If you think this is something us millennials and the later generations are obsessed with, you are mistaken. Throughout the course of history, humans […]

Continue reading...

Top Dos and Don’ts of Modern SEO

SEO Processes 2020

Ethical SEO Practices Last Update No matter what they say, getting the right SEO is an art! It’s dynamic, technical, and the cornerstone of digital growth. Even when you think you are doing everything right, a single move can push or pull you in the wrong direction. It may make you feel overwhelmed and ready […]

Continue reading...

7 Social Media Trends for 2020

Social Media Trends 2020

Social Media Marketing Techniques Last Update Social media is fast and fluid. Social media trends emerge fast and disappear even faster. There are rarely any instances where a previous social media trend remains relevant in the next year. Thus, it is imperative to keep pace with it. Prevalent social media practices must undergo constant evaluation […]

Continue reading...