Home » Digital Marketing1 » Organic Traffic from Google is Slowing Down

Google has long been one of the main channels in bringing visitors, customers and orders for websites through organic traffic (SEO) and paid traffic (Adwords). As the largest search engine with a market share of nearly 70%, leaving far behind competitors such as Yahoo and Bing (in Vietnam, Google’s market share is even greater, accounting for more than 90%), traffic from Google plays a vital role in almost every digital marketing campaign from large corporations to small and medium companies. Of course, natural traffic from SEO has long been highly praised and chased, simply because it’s free and has the relatively high potential to generate sales and conversion rates.

However, perhaps it is time to think about the prospect that this free and natural source of traffic will decline and shrink. Organic traffic will never disappear (as explained below), but it will certainly be more difficult for many people to get. The decline in natural traffic, though unclear, began to show signs with imminent events, if not saying that the beginning has started.

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Seriously, no kidding. Source: 9gag

The reasons for the increasing difficulty of gaining natural traffic include many factors as outlined below:

1. Google changes the rules of the game faster and more frequently

It’s hard to remember how many updates on the search algorithms that Google has published over a one-year period. And what Google publishes is just a small part of the iceberg about what Google changes daily beneath the surface. What has previously worked now no longer does. What was previously Google’s permission, now no longer is allowed. Getting high rank on search results is becoming more and more difficult but that is not the main reason because it is true that SEO is increasingly difficult but it is not impossible if you do the right way. The main reason is the next.

2. Google reduces the amount of natural traffic to your website

Even if you can achieve high rankings on Google, your organic traffic will also decrease. Why is that so? Simply because the natural results on search sites are increasingly buried under more layers of information and thus lessening the likelihood that users will click on natural search results. A very clear example of this is the image below:

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Natural traffic is decreasing as more information overwhelms

As you can see with the search results shown in the image, even if you rank first on the search results, the likelihood that it get clicked will be greatly reduced because almost the entire screen has been all encroached on by advertising, location information, and more from Google. This causes organic traffic to decline even though the ranking of the website is high on the search page. And do not make the mistake of thinking that this information is only visible on certain keywords, such as a service, a location, Google will increasingly put more of this information into the search page for the purpose of minimizing the search time for users.

Recently, Google actively takes content from a number of websites and features it on the top to help answer the searcher’s questions more quickly. This form usually appears for question-type keywords, and often this will help the searcher quickly find the answer they need and thereby eliminating the need to visit the website just to see that information. This also contributes to reducing CTR and organic traffic for the first rank results.

3. Social search trend is on the rise

Google is still a great and effective search engine and is the most popular. However, this is likely to change soon as more and more people are searching but not using Google anymore and in stead using other highly specialized search engines. For example, if you are looking for a song or lyrics, sometimes young people will go to Mp3 Zing to search instead of Google. Similarly if you find a video clip, sometimes you will go directly to Youtube. Wanting to buy something, you will go directly to Amazon or eBay. Wanting to find information about a great person or event, sometimes you will use Wikipedia, etc.

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Ok, next time I go to Wikipedia to find out. Source: 9gag

So now the need to use Google to search will decrease as users increasingly know more specialized sources for each type of information. This may also partially affect the search volume of keywords on Google and thereby affect the amount of natural traffic that you can receive.

4. The movement of traffic from desktop to mobile

Smartphones are increasingly popular and the number of people using them to go online, search for information, track news is on an expasion and they can do it anywhere. However, there is a certainty that the Google mobile search experience still needs a lot to improve. Simply because the user behavior and their way of searching on smartphone is not the same as when they use laptop or desktop. Because the smartphone screen is quite small with limited typing and not fast, it is much more ardurous and time-consuming for users to find information. To search using Google on your smartphone, first you have to open your browser, go to Google, type in your search terms, and then see each search result, click on the result, open another browser tab to see the information. If the information does not match, the user must repeat the search process again and again.

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What? Search again on this phone? No way!

And as mentioned in a previous article on SEO for mobile sites, with the scrolling up and down being difficult, unless you are in the top 3 search results, the possibility that you get natural traffic will decrease substantially. Difficult mobile search + too much additional information (ads, maps) + limited display, finding organic traffic on the desktop is difficult, but even more on the mobile.

* Unrelevant info: there are now many investors who are spending money to develop applications to bring a better mobile search experience against  Google, one of them is typically Vurb. Of course, Google will not sit still, so the rivals will be able to keep their fingers crossed and there will be plenty of fun to watch.7

As an advertiser, what do you do?

Due to the reasons and causes for the reduced nature of traffic as mentioned above, we can draw some core issues worth considering.

1. Google is trying to discourage anyone who wants to overfly its algorithms to control rankings on search results. And it’s really up to you to think less about just how to increase your keyword rank but about how to improve the user experience and raise the quality of your website. That is the way to bring the most comprehensive traffic.

2. Google is a company and it serves the two kinds of target: advertisers and searchers. And webmasters do not matter, you either choose to survive with Google law or stop the game, it’s up to you. As a result, Google has increasingly filled search pages with all sorts of ads or extra information and pushed natural search results lower if they felt that resonable. And this will only increase rather than decrease, accept the truth.

3. Trends and user behaviors are changing rapidly with the advent of many devices and applications. And user behavior is the decisive thing. What is working now may be not the same in the next few years. I would not be surprised if in the next few years Google Adwords or Facebook Ads are no longer the top choice of advertisers anymore, but there will be newer channels emerging to replace them.

In short, the depletion of natural traffic from Google as well as the search engines are happening now, although you may not realise immediately, but certainly this will have a great influence on the direction and marketing development strategy in the future. This is a warning to websites that natural traffic (and possibly Adwords) accounts for the majority of the total at the moment. Never put all the eggs in the same basket, since it’s impossible to tell how changes from Google or from user behavior will affect those channels. There should be always a overvall marketing strategy that includes optimizing the website along with optimizing the user experience, expanding the level of brand awareness, and reaching customers with as many channels as possible.

Q: Maybe one day natural traffic will be gone? Can Google insert all results with ads to maximize profits?

A: Definitely not. If one day you open up Google and see the results are all ads, will you still use it? Google needs natural results to retain users.

Q: Is it true that SEO is no longer needed accroding to the article?

A: No, SEO is still an important part of the development strategy. Just the time has come to consider SEO not by optimizing to increase rankings but to improve user experience and increase conversion rate.

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Tác giả:

Regional CMO quản lý khu vực Châu Á của Ringier AG - tập đoàn truyền thông đa quốc gia tư hữu lớn nhất của Thụy Sĩ. Anh từng giữ các vị trí cấp cao khác tại Ringier như CEO Marry Network và Marketing Director của MuaBanNhaDat. Anh từng đảm nhiệm vị trí CMO và là thành viên team sáng lập của GO-VIET (đối tác chính thức của GO-JEK tại Việt Nam) khi hãng này xây dựng chiến lược thị trường và ra mắt thành công tại Việt Nam. Anh cũng là người sáng lập UAN - cộng đồng Marketing và Truyền Thông năng động nhất hiện nay.

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