It’s the most exciting time of the year: preseason football, baby! Oh sure, some people will say that the games are meaningless and, if anything, more likely to lead to star players getting injured than really helping teams prepare for the regular season. But that’s the wrong way to look at it.

The preseason is, in fact, the most dramatic part of the NFL. On each team, there are 90 players vying for just 53 roster spots. And the guys getting cut are typically fringe players who would give their right eye to get a little tick on the practice squad. For them, the preseason is life or death. The outcome of every play could determine how their lives unfold. Some unranked prospect out of Tulane fumbles the ball, and his career’s over before it even started. Those are some pretty high stakes compared with a bunch of millionaires losing a championship or title game.

If all that preseason action is a little too intense, though, we’ve got the perfect way to kick back, unwind and relax: the Content Marketing Weekly. This time around, we’re covering zero clicks, in-house research and an early look at holiday SEO.

Less Than Half of Google Searches Now Result in a Click

Digital marketers sometimes get overly preoccupied with hitting certain benchmarks – specifically, landing on the first page of search results and nabbing one of those top three positions. But if no one’s clicking on those results, how much will search ranking matter?

It’s a question that’s come up in light of recent analysis conducted by Brafton-favorite Rand Fishkin. According to his research, which reviewed Google clickstream data from June 2019, zero-click searches accounted for more than half of all browser-based searches for the first time ever.

Given Google’s aggressive attempts at refining SERPs to provide content and answers without requiring the user to navigate to a third-party page, perhaps these results shouldn’t be that surprising. You don’t need to click on a search result if the info you’re looking for is right there in the answer box above the fold.

Fishkin also pointed out that when you consider all of the companies different properties, at least 94% of all search activity happens on a Google platform. The more Google gobbles up search traffic for itself or diverts searchers to its other properties, the less there is for the rest of us.

The good news is organic searches that resulted in a click still represented 45% of the surveyed results, so the sky’s not falling just yet. And even if we reach a point where Google captures the vast majority of organic traffic for itself, Fishkin believes there will still be benefits to improving your company’s search rankings for high-intent queries.

“Rich information appearing in Google’s results may be, like billboard ads or press mentions, harder to track than website traffic, but it’s still exposing your brand name to an audience, building familiarity, and sharing information,” Fishkin stated, according to Search Engine Land. “In my opinion, the brands that find ways to benefit from that type of SERP exposure, even without a click, will be the ones who win at this new form of on-SERP SEO.”

Check out the full story.

7 Things Successful Marketers Do With Original Research

Proprietary research conducted by your in-house teams (or farmed out to a third-party firm) is an invaluable digital marketing tool. Of course, it won’t do you much good if you’re not optimizing that content, promoting it and producing research materials that resonate with your target audience.

Over at the Content Marketing Institute, Mantis Research’s Michele Linn shared a few tips in this area, including some advice on how to set up a survey to get the best responses. And lest you think she dreamed up these tips based on gut instinct alone, it’s worth noting that her suggestions are culled from a survey of nearly 650 marketers her firm conducted.

Some of the most noteworthy bits of advice include:

  • Use survey logic tools to customize questions based on participant responses to get more relevant and probing results.
  • Take advantage of business contacts and social media followers to find participants who match your ideal target demographics.
  • Collaborate with industry experts, thought leaders and influencers to help promote your findings. Getting a quote or two that showcases their unique viewpoint doesn’t hurt, either.
  • Spin off as many content ideas as you can from your research. Whether that content is directly promoting your research or simply inspired by it, you’ve just hit content marketing pay dirt.

To read the full story, head on over to the Content Marketing Institute.

SEO for the Holidays: 2019 Edition

I know what you’re thinking: “The leaves haven’t even started changing color yet, and you want to me to get cracking on my holiday SEO strategy?” Well, yeah. It’s never too early to make a plan for the holidays.

In fact, if you ask the fine folks over at Search Engine Journal, you’re actually getting a late start on things if you waited this long. Nevertheless, you should make the most of the time you have left before the holidays roll around to capitalize on the surge in consumer activity.

The Search Engine Journal team has plenty of helpful tips to energize your holiday SEO strategy – even more so if you download their eBook. One important thing to keep in mind is to target search phrases from the perspective of gift givers, rather than receivers. For instance, parents might look up ESRB ratings for video games their kids ask for to make sure they’re age-appropriate.

The Search Engine Journal people also urge marketers to stop resisting Google’s changes to SERP layouts and tweak their strategies to take advantage of those updates. Zero-click searches generally indicate the user is still in the product research stage and not yet ready to buy, so just getting your brand in front of them through the answer box or other SERP element is a win in and of itself.

There’s plenty more to unpack, especially if you decide to download the full eBook. Rest assured, you’ll have a lot to think about as you plan your holiday SEO strategy.

You can read the entire story here.

That wraps up another edition of the Content Marketing Weekly, but stay tuned for another round of all the latest and greatest industry news and updates.

Jeff Keleher is a writer and editor at Brafton. A man of simple tastes, he enjoys playing guitar, playing video games and playing with his dog - sometimes all at once. He still hasn't gotten over Illinois' loss in the 2005 NCAA National Championship game, and he probably never will.