Economic uncertainty, high inflation rates, and chatter about a recession changes how consumers and businesses spend their money.
When events and external disruption begin to affect human behavior, there is usually an equal change in search behavior.
While this volatility can be worrisome to any marketing or SEO strategy, you can rest assured knowing that data-driven insights and opportunities can ensure overall company operations stay solidified.
The following workflows help SEOs gain the confidence to better understand changes in users’ search behavior and how that may or may not affect organic priorities moving forward.
Plan, Plan, Plan
When you have an idea of how to react to situations, you’re already one step ahead. If you don’t have a plan based on this rapid change, we’re going to show you the insights required to make one.
Recommended Reading: How to Create an SEO Roadmap [Template Included!]
Find the Traffic Trends in Search Analytics
Search Analytics shows performance data for pages and keywords on your site.
Here, you can filter down to specific performance trends to see what has changed over a period of time, and formulate a plan of action for the future.
To start, navigate to Search Analytics in the platform. That's where you can analyze your Search Console data. Plus, you can see an exact match with the top-level view of Search Console.
Since we’re interested in the change in search behavior, let’s analyze the traffic trends over two weeks to see how the change progressed (and what specific pages were affected).
In this case, two weeks will show us the period of increasing panic due to the economic news cycle compared to a period that was relatively calm. This analysis is very effective right now.
Note: You can set a custom data range to see how traffic trends changed over a longer period.
- Select the week view
- Use the drop down to select “Last 2 Weeks”
- Hit the “Compare” box. This will automatically set the platform to compare the data of the date range show.
- Hit “Apply” to see the results
After these changes have been applied, you’ll see the overall percent change for pages in terms of weighted average position, clicks, CTR, and impressions.
Immediately you see a substantial drop in clicks over the course of this two-week period. But this only tells part of the story. We need to dig in to see what specifically has caused this change.
Segment Your Data with Content Types
To analyze your specific content and site structure, utilize Content Types — a trended view of information that is unique to seoClarity. This view makes it easy to see specifically where traffic has dropped off.
This filter groups results into the Content Type categories that you’ve created, which shows you what groups of pages have seen a change.
If you work in the real estate industry, for example, you may want Content Types like Home Listings, Rental Listings, Agent Resources, Blog, etc.
You then select which pages you want to be a part of those Content Type classifications to easily sort the content together.
Tip: Content Types are Dynamic!
You can add, delete, or edit Content Types on the spot. Just find the pattern in your site’s URL format. They work retroactively, so when you create a new classification, the sorted data will be ready for your analysis instantly.
Note: If you don’t have Content Types set up, do so now! This grouping will show you insights that are meaningful to you based on categories that you’ve set up that are relevant to your industry. If you’re unsure how, your Client Success Manager can assist you.
(Change in impressions and clicks in the Content Types view.)
The change we see above isn’t just a change in impressions and clicks for individual types. These Content Type groupings are unique to your organization and your URL pattern and easily sort large amounts of pages into an easily digestible data point.
From the above, we know which page types are performing well and which have are not over the designated time period. These insights allow you to formulate your SEO action plan in uncertain times.
The traffic changes based on Content Type show you which areas of your site your users still find useful, and which they deem no longer relevant.
Real-world events have a direct impact on a person’s behavior and buying habits, which has a clear connection with search behavior. These insights alert you to what is top of mind for the end users, and what you should be focusing your efforts or content on now.
Dive into Specific Pages' Performance
With the Unique Page view, you can narrow down to the individual pages to see the performance over time.
(Change in impressions for specific pages.)
Sort the URLs by change in ranking keywords or traffic to see which specific pages have had a decrease in traffic.
Recommended Reading: Notice a Loss in Keyword Ranking? Here’s How to Analyze.
This process within the platform will show you how changes in search behavior are affecting your company. Use these insights to form a plan for the current state of industry change, and compose your action plan for the future as things continue to change.
Understanding human behavior via online search behavior lets you alter your SEO strategy.
— Mitul Gandhi, Co-founder and CEO
Use Case of a Change in User (and Search) Behavior
At the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic, we analyzed data from a company that provides information on physicians and other types of healthcare providers. The data matched the expected user behavior for that questionable time.
Search behavior moved from pages that focused on locating a physician, and shifted to another a category of pages that focused on symptoms of different health conditions.
Look at the data trends in the Content Type below:
(Trends in Content Types for a medical industry company.)
Remember that Content Types are unique to each business as they determine what web pages are housed within it.
Respond to the Trends in Search and Traffic Data
Though it may be hard to do, avoid reacting to data swings when looking at a shorter time frame like day-to-day or just comparing one week.
With these types of changes, it’s going to take some time to accurately determine which pages were affected the most and what that means in terms of overall human behavior.
Our recommendation: Look at the last two weeks and compare against the previous two weeks. This could vary by your industry if there’s seasonality trends that would swing that comparison.
Comparing two weeks year-over-year could be right for you.
Both Search and Site Analytics let you see the data over time so you can easily monitor trends, whether that’s day by day, week by week, etc. without having to manually download all the data from your site analytics tool.
In fact, this trended view of data is unique to seoClarity, so be sure to leverage this powerful tool.
Once you have your dates set and the filtered view you want to review, move down to the table and move to the trended view. In a few clicks, you can see your pages individually trended week-over-week. You can apply the same Content Types, Page Tags, etc. at this level as well to roll-up your pages traffic or impression data.
Note: This is demo data in the chart below.
(Site Analytics: Trended View Screenshot Demonstrates the Traffic Week Over Week.)
User Behavior in SEO Brings Insights to Your Entire Organization
While we hear time and again how hard it is to evangelize SEO throughout the organization, in uncertain times SEOs have access to data that everyone in your organization will find valuable.
You have access to this real-time, user research data that you can present to your executives to show them how the changing times are affecting the company’s bottom line.
Here are a few ideas on how to execute:
- Present this information with custom dashboards, and be sure to follow the best practices for reporting SEO. This includes tailoring the data to tell the story that your audience will be interested in hearing.
- Meet with key stakeholders. Leverage the dashboards you created, focus on recent trends, and communicate the implications and opportunities presented from the data.
- Share your recent trend reports along with insights with your direct manager to share more widely across your organization. This is a great time to increase your team’s visibility.
You need to be prepared to show your executives the information that’s going to be of interest to them. Be ready to use the platform in a live setting to filter through the data on the fly to prove your points."
— Mark Traphagen, VP of Product Marketing and Training
Integrate With Other Teams
Since this is a time where inter-departmental collaboration is going to be required to get in front of the challenges and the opportunities, this is the perfect time to collaborate with other teams. We are all in the same situation where we are being asked to leave no stone un-turned, so to speak.
There’s no time like now to be aggressive and find low-hanging fruit opportunities.
You realize the value of SEO and the impact that this organic search data can have for understanding overall search behavior, and now your colleagues may be open to seeing how that data can have a positive impact on their work too.
Think about your paid search team
What do you know about their PPC efforts: the terms they bid on, the words that drive conversions, the general strategies that they deploy?
This is a great opportunity to educate your team about strategies for paid search.
Recommended Reading: The Benefits of SEO and PPC Integration
Another low-hanging fruit opportunity is with landing pages specifically. Take this opportunity to optimize the pages’ content to increase the quality score to bring more relevance which can also improve search visibility and be a win-win for both teams.
Think about your IT team
Your IT team could likely be looking for quick wins as well.
A great time to approach that part of the organization with are sometimes simple technical fixes they may be to add to their release schedule.
Coming armed with the right data or just re-positioning the data within the current climate may be a win-win for both teams.
How SEOs Can Take the Lead In Uncertain Times
Enterprise SEOs who work on sites with thousands of visitors each day need to pay attention to the way uncertain times impact the way their audience searches.
When you understand the changes of online search behavior, you also begin to understand the true human behavior of those searchers. You learn their priorities, their fears, their version of non-essential, and more.
Recommended Reading: 9 Ways SEOs Bring Value to Every Team in Their Organization
You are in a position to leverage the insights gained from seoClarity to set the conversation as you and your company continue to push forward.
Those who have access to search and user behavior are in a unique position in times like this: they see how changes affect their business's bottom line, whereas the competition is scrambling to figure out what has changed in the first place.
Having an understanding of the performance of your site shows you how people are changing their behaviors in times of uncertainty.
Specifically, the analysis of Content Types shows how people are interacting with different areas of your site — those categories that you have grouped together to tell a story of the aggregate data.
Even though site performance may be decreasing, there is a silver lining: you have invaluable insights that will prove beneficial to the entire organization. You’re now able to work with other teams to solve the challenges facing the company, with organic search data being at the forefront of strategy formation.