Industry News

Drive your content marketing strategy with Google's micro-moments

Kevin Bobowski
May 23, 2017

Every day 3.5 billion search queries are processed––more than half of which are mobile–– crawling through the internet to connect consumers with the right answers.  Finally! As marketers, we’ve waited years for a mobile-first world. Well, it’s here and ready to wreck havoc on our content marketing strategy.

Consumers are fragmenting their days to plan their next “go,” a nearby bookstore, their “do,” building a backyard fence. They want to “know” the stats from last night’s game, and to “buy,” comparing the costs of Patagonia jackets. More content? Yes. Different content? Absolutely.  Enter the age of intelligent content.

A 2016 study found consumers touch their phones more than 2,500 times per day. In theory, with so many consumers hungry for the right intel, connecting them with the right answer, your brand, should be easy. However, without the right strategy for meeting your consumer in the middle, the right search may simply occur in a vacuum––devoid of any profit for your brand and the consumer. The key to delight and connection with the average consumer is understanding intent and developing intelligent content to serve consumers with exactly what they want.

Google has boiled down the billions of searches that occur every day to four main micro-moments, based off the four most common types of queries:

  • I want to know” queries are the original search intent that the encyclopedias of yesterday fulfilled. These types of queries are often the jumping off point for the next three types of queries.
  • I want to do” queries are created by people looking for a practical guide to completing a task. For example, how to brew craft beer.
  • I want to go” queries offer consumers the opportunity to see nearby options and even compare multiple options at once. They are usually tied directly into proximity and immediate desire.
  • I want to buy” queries are the most profitable opportunities for businesses, as consumers have already decided to purchase. Businesses looking to capitalize on this micro moment sometimes purchase a position at the top of the SERP. However, savvy consumers tend to overlook purchased SERP results in favor of organic results

Understanding Google’s preference to cater to the buyer intent is the key to enabling your brand to meet  a potential buyer at the halfway point of their search journey.

Become a quick answer authority
Speed and dedication to constantly improving and personalizing accuracy of results has made Google the number-one search platform among users. In the case of “I want to do” and “I want to know” queries, the consumer is usually looking for actionable information they can use immediately, and Google has delivered with Quick Answers.

Quick Answers appears at the top of the search engine results page (SERP) as a preview to the match deemed most appropriate for consumers’ “I want to do” and “I want to know” queries. The preview format gives your brand an advantage, as consumers are incentivized to click through the the root source of the Quick Answer box.

The big “I want to know” and “I want to do” questions can result in indirect sales. For example, when you query “how to paint a room,” Lowe’s has claimed the Quick Answer box in the hopes that once you satisfy “I want to do,” their retailer locations are the next natural step as you set out to complete your goal by purchasing paint.

Even if the consumer does not want to make immediate moves following their query, the right answers can translate into brand familiarity, trust and loyalty––a long term value for brands.

This quick answer position is neither purchased, nor guaranteed; every six months, 55 percent of Quick Answers will turnover. Marketers looking to land their brand in Quick Answers boxes––or maintain their position––should:

  • First and foremost have a high-ranking and reputable website that ranks in the top five for a particular query.
  • Content should be authoritative and address long-tail style keywords (multi-word phrases, like “San Francisco boat tours”).
  • Rich content can also have a significant impact on Quick Answers ranking. Numbered lists, images and videos elevate results higher in the SERP for “I want to know” and “I want to do” queries.

Master the local 3-pack
An estimated 56 percent of mobile searches have local intent, with half of consumers reporting they will act on local searches conducted from their smartphones within a day.

These hyper-localized searches tend to manifest in the form of “I want to go”––and occasionally “I want to do”––queries, and appear at the top of the SERP as a local three pack. Visible in this box are the top three listings within the vicinity of the searched location or the user's proximity, these include a map, address, phone number, store hours and atmosphere of the location.

The Google 3-Pack also accounts for consumer ratings. The highest rated options are usually placed closer to the top of the three pack, given the weight of proximity to the consumer’s location.

The Google Local 3-Pack was designed with the user journey in mind–– consumers desire the ability to quickly browse and pull information to make comparisons, and in the end, a final decision. There are several key strategies for marketers seeking candidacy in the local 3-pack:

  • Optimize the speed, layout and design of your site for optimal user experience, to cater to the user bouncing in and out for information.
  • Keep your business’s Google presence up-to-date: use accurate and consistent naming, setup a Google My Business profile, as well as a Google+ page that is kept freshly updated. Encourage customers to write Google reviews. The Google My Business Help Center has a wealth of information on optimizing your business’s web presence.
  • Ensure Google’s crawler knows where your business is located by AMP-optimizing locator-type pages and adding GeoCoordinates as a schema markup, including latitude and longitude.
  • Brands also have the option to buy position one in the Local 3-Pack.

Connecting consumers to your brand begins with understanding the goal they wish to take away from their journey and meeting them at the halfway point. Mobile technology and Google’s search algorithms offer an incredible opportunity for marketers to work hand in hand with customers’ micro moment needs.

Create for mobile moments
Brands can have all of the above elements in their digital presence, but Google’s tailored mobile algorithms expect even more. To stake a claim in the mobile SERP, marketers must ensure the brand’s website is mobile-friendly and optimized for speed. If the mobile page doesn’t easily accommodate to a device or load quickly, it will not rank high on the mobile SERP. Google has also began to contextualize SERP to geographic locations. In fact, 73 percent of search results now vary from desktop to digital platforms. Brand’s can use SEO platforms to identify this shift in a mobile context and strategize.

When developing the strategy to be ranked in the top keyword results for query consideration, accuracy and rich content are your brand’s most advantageous tactics to harness the power of SEO and claim a top position in the SERP. The fact is that when brands take care to create content with the needs of the end user in mind, they can succeed in creating a symbiotic relationship from which the consumer and brand emerges satisfied.

As the senior vice president of marketing for BrightEdge, Kevin Bobowski leads the company’s go-to-market strategy and a growing marketing team responsible for building the BrightEdge brand, driving demand, and expanding customer relationships. Prior to BrightEdge he was the Chief Marketing Officer of Act-On software. Kevin was also VP, Product & Market Solutions at ExactTarget & Salesforce.com, where his team fueled the company’s growth through a successful IPO in 2012 and acquisition by Salesforce two years later for $2.7 billion. Kevin has a BA from Michigan State University.