Something I’d love to have the time to do would be to investigate, in engineering and scientific marketing, trends in how Google is being used. For now, we have to use studies from other industries. One such investigation suggests that the clickthrough rate on a “number one position” in Google is down massively over the past couple of years, although this is at least partially compensated for by an increase in searches. If the same is true in our market sectors, then we may find the value of a top position in Google is as high as ever, despite the increase in distractions on the page.
That’s assuming, of course, that it’s the distractions (adverts etc) which are causing the clickthrough rate to fall. Some people are suggesting that the results are similar whether or not there are ads, in which case we need to look for other factors. According to Moz, a third of searches result in no clicks at all. That may be because Google is serving up the answer on the search page, without the need for a clickthrough, or maybe many people are just looking stuff up and then getting distracted!
I suspect that in engineering and scientific marketing, we’re well behind all these general trends, but we’ll inevitably move that way. To stay ahead of the curve therefore, we need to push to get those ‘featured snippets’ which are becoming more common, and to answer questions in general. Saying ‘get me to number one for blue widgets’ is becoming less relevant all the time.