Search Traffic Is Dying—Here's What You Can Do About It - Social Media Explorer
Search Traffic Is Dying—Here’s What You Can Do About It
Search Traffic Is Dying—Here’s What You Can Do About It

Did you see Google’s earnings for Q1 2019?

I don’t know about you, but my ears pique when Google reports earnings.

This quarter, like every quarter before, the lion’s share of revenue came from advertising monies. This time, the numbers are much better than earlier quarters at $36.3 billion.

That spurt has to come from somewhere.

My guess? We as search marketers are the ones being squeezed dry.

I’ve good reason to suspect this. It’s a triple whammy of sorts.

  1. Algo Updates Keep Upending Traffic and Rankings

There’s always an update lurking around the corner. And when it comes, almost without fail, it manages to slice clean a big chunk of traffic. It doesn’t matter how good your site is.

For instance, for the recent Google update that happened in June this year, Health and Gambling sites were hit hardest.

“The gambling niche was hit hard as were the health and finance niches (though the update was/is impactful across the board),”—Search Engine Land.

That’s not the complete picture.

Sites that follow SEO best practices, don’t sell links, consistently push great content, even dole out SEO advice like Brian Dean and Neil Patel too lost a sizeable chunk of traffic, when all was said and done. When that happens, whether its quality that Google wants, warrants serious thought.

  2. Featured Snippets Kill Traffic(plus an example)

In quarter 1, Google’s US search engine received over 150 billion queries

  • Of this, a staggering 48.96% searches ended without a click to any site, meaning Google satisfied search intent without the searcher having to visit a site.
  • Google sent 7.2% of all search clicks to paid results
  • 12% of all clicks were sent to websites part of Google. The search began and ended on a Google property.
  • Only 45% of search queries were sent to organic results.

The instances where search intent is satisfied sans a website visit almost always sport featured snippets or carousels. You might already know what featured snippets are. What you might not know is how snippets can hurt your business.

You may be able to better wrap your head around the practical implications of this with an example.

When we rank for something we expect a certain amount of traffic based on our position. Rank 1 and you get 30% CTR, the second position gets you just shy of 20% CTR and so on. This has been the norm since ever.

Snippets, carousels, and soon-to-comes turn the familiar landscape on its head.

Michael Stelzner’s observations on snippets are eye-opening. For the term social media (that gets a million plus searches), and for which Social Media Examiner ranks on the fifth spot–the traffic is measly.


The real results get a chance only after Google has tried every trick in the book they wrote. And by then, the traffic has already reduced to a trickle.

Case in point— for the term social media here’s how the SERPs look like:

There’s a dictionary definition followed by phrases and questions topically relevant to the term social media, that others search for. This carousel of results cobbles together search snippets pulled from multiple sites.

This is followed by a link from Wikipedia, an organization Google’s heavily invested in.

After that, we have a carousel of results lifted from Twitter. And then real results begin.

What you see now is a preview to something monstrously sinister. It’s the first step in a series that’s destined to balloon to Godzilla-like proportions.

Michael shares another example, this time the data ties to Google Search Console.

The article above(with the featured snippet) was displayed 100000 times but the click-through rate a measly 4.5% a total 4658 times.

    3. Google’s Bias

That coupled with Google’s bias toward certain sites such as Mercola, is shocking. 99% of Mercola’s organic traffic disappeared after the June update.

According to Dr. Joseph Mercola—Now, any time you enter a health-related search word into Google, such as “heart disease” or “Type 2 diabetes,” you will not find articles in the search results. The only way to locate any of my articles at this point is by searching for “ heart disease,” or “ Type 2 diabetes. Google’s June 2019 update, which took effect June 3, has effectively removed from Google search results. Mercola’s fully referenced content has been at the top of health search results for over 15 years.”

Who died and made Google king and jury? Isn’t it up to the searchers to decide what they want to see.

By controlling information flow they’re controlling what people all over the world get to believe in.

All of this points to a tragic hollowing out of people who made search possible with their content.

The canary is in the coal mine and his song’s for us.

What’s The Alternative?

Being so vested in search engine traffic, we often tend to turn a blind eye towards everything else.

Here’s what Cody Neer, CEO of several multimillion-dollar e-commerce brands, says about social media “We use social media to drive traffic to over 300 of our e-commerce stores. Our brands are expected to cross $60 million in sales by the end of 2019 [with] much of that success thanks to social media.”

Which Social Media Platform is Right For You?

The answer boils down to— a. Who you want to target? and b. What are your goals?

But first, let’s crunch numbers.

Facebook has 2.2 billion people on it, Instagram half as many, Twitter has 330 million members and 500 million users for LinkedIn.

Before you get too excited, let me break something to you.

There’s more to it than meets the eye.

Don’t be blindsided by the absolute number of registered users on each social media channel. Here’s the truth on numbers that matter. The infographic is from Search Engine Journal.

monthly active users social networks

I’ve clubbed together a list of networks based on their core strengths and size.


68% of US adults use Facebook. Of this a majority, 51% login multiple times a day.

Each user is a member of several pages, groups or events. The average Facebook user likes 40 pages.

Simply put, everyone you know is on Facebook.

And that just multiplies the number of targeting options at hand.


Instagram is the perfect place to get leads and sales. 


200 million members on the platform visit business profiles every day. 

And who should you market to?

Instagram is most popular with youngsters. It’s evident in the fact that 66% of adults between the ages of 18 to 24 are active on Instagram.

What’s more—as a user you can post to several channels all at once.


Admit it, when you hear social media, LinkedIn isn’t the first name that comes to your mind.

The social media landscape is painted in fun. LinkedIn with its conversations on serious matters sits in stark contrast.

Could there be better news for b2b marketers?

Its user base consists of professionals making it ripe for b2b marketing. The network has 303 million active monthly users, 40% of who visit the site daily.

  • LinkedIn is home to over 90 million topline influencers
  • Over 92% of Fortune 500 brands are on LinkedIn.
  • LinkedIn accounts for 46% of b2b social media traffic.

Use Data to Drive Growth

Next, go to each of these channels analytics tools to find out if the channels are working for you. We do this for two reasons. 

  • One, to find areas we can improve
  • To better direct our efforts to channels that are already working for us

Understanding the kind of content that performs well is key to creating more such content.

The process itself doesn’t vary much platform-to-platform. Let’s see how it works on Facebook.

Here’s how to get started:

It’s assumed you have a brand page on Facebook.

Go the top-right corner of your Facebook account. Select your page and click on Business Manager.

Here’s what you’re looking for:

  1. Demographic data
  2. Popularity of our content

With the Business Manager, you get to see the number of page likes, its reach and engagement generated. You can roll it back to watch progress for today, yesterday and last seven days.

Click on the arrow on the left to get a bird’s eye view of the top performing posts. You can see the number of views and engagement on each post.

With Facebook Insights, you get a report on the demographic makeup of your target audience.

Information like:

  • The ratio of men vs women
  • Age groups and the percentage of people in each group
  • Countries

Healthy numbers mean what you’re posting is attracting attention.

Social Media Case Studies

Boufe Boutique Cafeteria’s Instagram Success

Piggybacking on social media— Boufe Boutique Cafe— a once one-horse establishment is now a household name.

Being in the restaurant biz isn’t easy. Call it rotten luck, Boufe’s choice of location as Phoenix Park was a big disadvantage. The first challenge for Sean (the owner) was getting customers.

Success came mostly through Instagram. It came on the back of a key discovery.  People like micro-moments. Something easy but out of the ordinary in tandem. They realized if little interactions are allowed to happen during dining, this will create a positive experience that can make its way to social media.

The key was to find interactions that weren’t too much to handle for the customer. You don’t want to invite him into the kitchen and let him create something from scratch. These micro steps shouldn’t demand a high level of skill or time.

One of the standout interactions is the galaxy cake experience.

Let’s see the steps that created a unique galaxy cake experience.

Anybody can serve a cake. What they did differently was give customers an opportunity to create their unique cakes by letting them pour the topping.

As simple as it appears, the results were surprising.

Their Instagram is filled with user-generated content of videos created by enthusiasts.

News spread and food bloggers took to covering this novelty generating hundreds of thousands of shares, word of mouth and footfall. Their business grew by leaps and bounds as it pulled hundreds of influencers and followers like a magnet.

SuperDrug’s Social Media Success With the Help of storyjacking

Buzzfeed featured a story on a woman who sent her photo to artists in 25 countries to photoshop her face to represent the beauty standards in those countries.

The story received thousands of shares and a few dozen links

A year later, Buzzfeed featured another story from that built on the same elements, featuring 18 artists from 18 countries. This time to make it relevant to SuperDrug, the marketing team asked artists to photoshop the woman’s entire body. To top it off, they also added BMI index data.


Over 700,000 views and 900,000 shares. And 1,000 referring domains to the page.

With storyjacking, you find a proven idea and tailor it to your campaign.

Storyjacking equally works well for large brands as it does for smaller brands.

Here’s how to use storyjacking for your business.

Begin by hunting down a story that performed really well. The next step is to use the same idea to create something that ties well with your brand

Dove’s Research Driven Twitter Campaign

Dove’s goal as a company is to raise women’s self-esteem. With eyes fixed on their focus, they always create content women can relate to.

The #SpeakBeautiful campaign like the ones before was rooted in research. Over 80% of women posted negative aspects of their body on social media. On Twitter alone, women posted 5 million negative tweets about beauty and their body image.

Dove wanted to change that experience to something positive. Teaming up with Twitter they launched a tool to that end that toned down the negative chatter. 

Women were inspired. The #SpeakBeautiful campaign gained lots of momentum with the tag used 168,000 times. The campaign generated 800 million impressions.

Dove’s campaign succeeded because they chose a topic that was close to the hearts of many women. When crafting social media campaigns remember to put yourselves in their shoes first.

This will help create targeted content.

Concluding thoughts

Google takes away your traffic, your copyrighted content and gets away with it.

You’re left hanging.

Search traffic makes up the lion’s share for a lot of sites. Of this Google sends most traffic. It’s not going to be the same hereafter.

For better or worse, things are changing.

For long-term growth, you must create additional sources of traffic for your site. Otherwise, you’re in a game you’re destined to lose.

What do you think?

Author bio: George is a freelance writer who’s worked as a staff writer on CrazyEgg, Kissmetrics and a dozen big and small companies. He loves marketing, SaaS and optimizing conversions. Want lip-smacking copy? Hire him.

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