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Building An Integrated Search Strategy



Building An Integrated Search Strategy

Digital transformation is here.

But is it really here for search marketers?

According to Google,

“Now is the time to reset, pivot, and think big to transform your business operations to match new digital expectations.”

Search marketers need to transform.

Looking at all your audiences and connecting them to relevant search engines – not just Google – truly allows digital marketers to transform.

Every search engine is different; in results, modes of search, and keyword intent (i.e., what keywords we use on each search engine varies).

It is not possible to duplicate what you are doing on Google and think it will work on YouTube and/or Amazon (or any other search engine for that matter).

As you begin your integrated search strategy, looking at one search engine can help you start to think about the others.

Generally speaking, we use:

  • Google to find.
  • Amazon to buy.
  • YouTube to watch.

When it comes to integrated search strategies, let’s begin by identifying what our focus engine/s are.

Identify Your Core Focus Areas Based On Your Audience And Analyze What The Search Engine Displays

Amazon is all about products.

Get to know your product performance. For brands, this isn’t just looking at Brand Analytics via Amazon Seller Central.

Here are the core and secondary focus of the ‘big three’ search engines:

Search engine Core focus Secondary focus
  • Category
  • Product pages
  • SERP Features

Review your Amazon performance and visibility (i.e., how well you rank) on Google. This will help you start to build out your keyword strategy.

You can do this by looking at which keywords Google ranks Amazon for.

Are any of these URLs your Amazon products? Do any of these keywords have an Amazon “double bubble”?

This might be a stronger indication that that keyword has high commercial intent. So much so that Google ranks Amazon more than once.

Amazon double bubbles are even more important on Google when they occur in higher-ranked positions.

Equally, if you see YouTube ranking, predominantly, on Google (e.g. displaying YouTube timestamps), this may be an indication that these keywords are more video-platform friendly.

Keep an eye on YouTube ranking for a traditional result too. It’s not always about timestamps.

When you see the usual diverse Google layout, one with lots of different search engine results page (SERP) features, this would be an indication that that keyword requires a Google platform focus.

Image from author, January 2023

Since we are talking about integrated search, let’s not just look at Google.

Google is a competitor of many search engines, including YouTube. (Even though they are part of the same company, Alphabet.)

According to eMarketer:

“Amazon’s first-party data on consumer shopping and purchase habits offer it an advantage over the more general online behavioral data that Facebook and Google provide.”

This is why Google has created things like Google Shopping and Google Jobs to fend off other large search engines like Amazon, Indeed, or Glassdoor, becoming the most dominant.

Each engine has very unique data, search behavior, and results. Every engine that your audience uses, needs its own strategy.

Overreliance and underinvestment in looking at each search engine’s data will limit your ability to create an integrated search strategy.

On-site search is beneficial.

On-Site Search (OSS)

Since the interface (and the functions of that interface) impact our search behavior, your top internal site search keywords (i.e., what keywords your website users are using within your own search bar) within your website will never fully align with what you see in Google Search Console, for example.

It is, however, a good idea to keep monitoring your internal site searches to continue to evolve your keyword strategy. There are some nuggets in there to help you develop what content you write about.

Internal site search, a form of on-site search (OSS), is powerful because it is based on real user behavior data.

Whenever you can, look at OSS by search engine.

Disclaimer: I work for Similarweb. The company I work for has features using OSS.

Let’s take the product “air conditioner” as an example.

On Google, we search for a wide range of keywords, but most of these are branded keywords, for example, “LG air conditioner” or “Mitsubishi air conditioner”. Overall, these keywords are broad and less specific.

On Amazon, we are more specific and tend to use more non-branded keywords – for example, “portable air conditioner” or “sliding window air conditioner.”

On YouTube, we are interested in both inspirational content at the pre-sale stage (e.g. “best portable air conditioner”), as well as post-sale stage (e.g. “mini split air conditioner installation”).

Integrated search strategy across Amazon, Google and YouTubeImage from author, January 2023

Any business that ranks on Google and produces videos needs to start creating separate Google and YouTube strategies. Retailers also need to do this for Amazon.

Let’s take a look at how keyword research compares across sites.

Google keyword research:

Keyword Generator to build out your Google keyword strategyScreenshot by author, January 2023

YouTube keyword research:

Keyword Generator to build out your YouTube keyword strategyScreenshot by author, January 2023
Keyword Generator to build out your Amazon keyword strategyScreenshot by author, January 2023

Buyer’s Journey

Traditionally, and far before digital acceleration was a thing, we used to group keywords by “informational,” “navigational,” and “transactional.”

These categories are outdated for integrated search, as the groupings do not easily align with search engines.

Group your keywords into these stages to get a better alignment with the buyer’s journey and core search engine:

Buyer’s journey phase  Core search engine Secondary search engine  Keyword example
Awareness Google Amazon and YouTube “Paper”
Consideration Amazon, Google, and YouTube “Printer paper”
Decision Amazon Google “A4 printer paper”
Inspiration YouTube Amazon and YouTube “How to make a paper airplane”


  • Core search engine: Google (sometimes Amazon and YouTube).
  • Keyword example: “Paper”.


  • Core search engines: Amazon, Google, and YouTube.
  • Keyword example: “Printer paper”.


  • Core search engine: Amazon (sometimes Google).
  • Keyword example: “A4 printer paper”.


  • Core search engine: YouTube (sometimes Amazon and YouTube).
  • Keyword example: “How to make an airplane out of printer paper”.

Benefits Of The Buyer’s Journey

Easier alignment to search engines and better performance insights.

Let’s take Google SERP features, for example. Are there more Instant Answers for awareness keywords compared to decision keywords?

SERP features help develop your Google strategy and digital assets on Google. Keywords with videos SERPs should not direct your YouTube strategy.

The buyer’s journey helps you to start building an integrated search strategy across the big three search engines of Amazon, Google, and YouTube.

If you have low SEO resources restricting you from focusing on this, try to set aside 30 minutes a week so you can slowly start to categorize keywords for your most important business unit.

Over the following weeks, you will start to gain valuable insights into an important line of business.

This will help you automatically get attention from other stakeholders internally, which will help you make a business case to do more SEO activities.

This is SEO evangelism at its best: engaging internal stakeholders.

The buyer’s journey is much easier to understand for non-digital audiences compared to a specific search engine’s ranking factors.

E-A-T Content Is Required For Every Search Engine Strategy, But Some Less Than Others

If you need a rundown (or refresher) on E-A-T, the SEJ guide explains it beautifully. Read it here: What Exactly Is E-A-T & Why Does It Matter to Google?

Now, let’s look at E-A-T (expertise, authority, and trustworthiness) from an integrated search perspective.

Google places more emphasis on E-A-T compared to Amazon and YouTube.

Amazon uses E-A-T the least, as it’s still playing catchup on improving its content-specific algorithms.

But since content exists on all three search engines, and to follow best practices, we need to think about E-A-T for all three search engines.

Do not use generic product descriptions on Amazon. If you are reselling, do not copy content from external sources, including from the supplier if you are reselling.

Be reactive on Amazon to user-generated content, in particular to reviews and questions/answers you receive.

Unlike Google and YouTube, you can’t send a piece of consumed text or video back. So keep an eye on order defect rates, stock levels, price, and conversion trends.

On Amazon and Google, keep an eye on reviews; authentic, specialist reviews are important.

As mentioned earlier, Google is the most advanced algorithmically when it comes to E-A-T. But really, E-A-T principles are like university essays.

Key questions to ask:

  • Is the content unique? If so, to what extent vs. what else we have seen (in the case of search engines indexed)?
  • Who else published about the topic? What are their strengths and weaknesses? How does this domain compare in relation to this?
  • What research has been conducted? Are there any references and to which resources/author profiles?
  • What questions were addressed? What are missing questions/angles?
  • What methods and formats were used?
  • What were the key points?

YouTube, like Amazon, factors more real-life metrics into its algorithm. In the case of Amazon, it’s defect rates and stock levels. On YouTube, it’s views, likes, gaining authentic subscribers, and comments.

Shareability is important to all three search engines but more important to Google and YouTube.

Google, for the most part, uses backlinks to monitor shareability.

YouTube may also use backlinks but video shares are more important. Make sure you enable video sharing under options/settings. Engagement is key for YouTube.

How Can I Build An Integrated Search Strategy?

Identify who your audience is, and what their core focus is.

If it’s to target younger audiences who consume video, your keyword strategy needs to be different than just targeting video consumers.

If your company is currently only doing SEO, review Amazon and YouTube performance on Google. This is the easiest way to start getting teams to think and get them to understand that each engine is different.

Understanding Amazon performance on Google at a keyword level, can add another dimension to keyword intent.

Categorize your keywords into the four stages of the buyer’s journey: awareness, consideration, decision, and inspiration. This will help you align your keywords by search engine, too.

Keyword grouping of the buyer’s journey will also add another interesting layer to your understanding of SERP features.

E-A-T your content on every search engine you operate in. Some engines have less emphasis, but remember every engine is getting more sophisticated, some at a slower rate than others.

Stay ahead of the game.

More resources:

Featured Image: Costello77/Shutterstock

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GPT Store Set To Launch In 2024 After ‘Unexpected’ Delays




GPT Store Set To Launch In 2024 After 'Unexpected' Delays

OpenAI shares its plans for the GPT Store, enhancements to GPT Builder tools, privacy improvements, and updates coming to ChatGPT.

  • OpenAI has scheduled the launch of the GPT Store for early next year, aligning with its ongoing commitment to developing advanced AI technologies.
  • The GPT Builder tools have received substantial updates, including a more intuitive configuration interface and improved file handling capabilities.
  • Anticipation builds for upcoming updates to ChatGPT, highlighting OpenAI’s responsiveness to community feedback and dedication to AI innovation.

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96.55% of Content Gets No Traffic From Google. Here’s How to Be in the Other 3.45% [New Research for 2023]



96.55% of Content Gets No Traffic From Google. Here's How to Be in the Other 3.45% [New Research for 2023]

It’s no secret that the web is growing by millions, if not billions of pages per day.

Our Content Explorer tool discovers 10 million new pages every 24 hours while being very picky about the pages that qualify for inclusion. The “main” Ahrefs web crawler crawls that number of pages every two minutes. 

But how much of this content gets organic traffic from Google?

To find out, we took the entire database from our Content Explorer tool (around 14 billion pages) and studied how many pages get traffic from organic search and why.

How many web pages get organic search traffic?

96.55% of all pages in our index get zero traffic from Google, and 1.94% get between one and ten monthly visits.

Distribution of pages by traffic from Content Explorer

Before we move on to discussing why the vast majority of pages never get any search traffic from Google (and how to avoid being one of them), it’s important to address two discrepancies with the studied data:

  1. ~14 billion pages may seem like a huge number, but it’s not the most accurate representation of the entire web. Even compared to the size of Site Explorer’s index of 340.8 billion pages, our sample size for this study is quite small and somewhat biased towards the “quality side of the web.”
  2. Our search traffic numbers are estimates. Even though our database of ~651 million keywords in Site Explorer (where our estimates come from) is arguably the largest database of its kind, it doesn’t contain every possible thing people search for in Google. There’s a chance that some of these pages get search traffic from super long-tail keywords that are not popular enough to make it into our database.

That said, these two “inaccuracies” don’t change much in the grand scheme of things: the vast majority of published pages never rank in Google and never get any search traffic. 

But why is this, and how can you be a part of the minority that gets organic search traffic from Google?

Well, there are hundreds of SEO issues that may prevent your pages from ranking well in Google. But if we focus only on the most common scenarios, assuming the page is indexed, there are only three of them.

Reason 1: The topic has no search demand

If nobody is searching for your topic, you won’t get any search traffic—even if you rank #1.

For example, I recently Googled “pull sitemap into google sheets” and clicked the top-ranking page (which solved my problem in seconds, by the way). But if you plug that URL into Ahrefs’ Site Explorer, you’ll see that it gets zero estimated organic search traffic:

The top-ranking page for this topic gets no traffic because there's no search demandThe top-ranking page for this topic gets no traffic because there's no search demand

This is because hardly anyone else is searching for this, as data from Keywords Explorer confirms:

Keyword data from Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer confirms that this topic has no search demandKeyword data from Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer confirms that this topic has no search demand

This is why it’s so important to do keyword research. You can’t just assume that people are searching for whatever you want to talk about. You need to check the data.

Our Traffic Potential (TP) metric in Keywords Explorer can help with this. It estimates how much organic search traffic the current top-ranking page for a keyword gets from all the queries it ranks for. This is a good indicator of the total search demand for a topic.

You’ll see this metric for every keyword in Keywords Explorer, and you can even filter for keywords that meet your minimum criteria (e.g., 500+ monthly traffic potential): 

Filtering for keywords with Traffic Potential (TP) in Ahrefs' Keywords ExplorerFiltering for keywords with Traffic Potential (TP) in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

Reason 2: The page has no backlinks

Backlinks are one of Google’s top three ranking factors, so it probably comes as no surprise that there’s a clear correlation between the number of websites linking to a page and its traffic.

Pages with more referring domains get more trafficPages with more referring domains get more traffic
Pages with more referring domains get more traffic

Same goes for the correlation between a page’s traffic and keyword rankings:

Pages with more referring domains rank for more keywordsPages with more referring domains rank for more keywords
Pages with more referring domains rank for more keywords

Does any of this data prove that backlinks help you rank higher in Google?

No, because correlation does not imply causation. However, most SEO professionals will tell you that it’s almost impossible to rank on the first page for competitive keywords without backlinks—an observation that aligns with the data above.

The key word there is “competitive.” Plenty of pages get organic traffic while having no backlinks…

Pages with more referring domains get more trafficPages with more referring domains get more traffic
How much traffic pages with no backlinks get

… but from what I can tell, almost all of them are about low-competition topics.

For example, this lyrics page for a Neil Young song gets an estimated 162 monthly visits with no backlinks: 

Example of a page with traffic but no backlinks, via Ahrefs' Content ExplorerExample of a page with traffic but no backlinks, via Ahrefs' Content Explorer

But if we check the keywords it ranks for, they almost all have Keyword Difficulty (KD) scores in the single figures:

Some of the low-difficulty keywords a page without traffic ranks forSome of the low-difficulty keywords a page without traffic ranks for

It’s the same story for this page selling upholstered headboards:

Some of the low-difficulty keywords a page without traffic ranks forSome of the low-difficulty keywords a page without traffic ranks for

You might have noticed two other things about these pages:

  • Neither of them get that much traffic. This is pretty typical. Our index contains ~20 million pages with no referring domains, yet only 2,997 of them get more than 1K search visits per month. That’s roughly 1 in every 6,671 pages with no backlinks.
  • Both of the sites they’re on have high Domain Rating (DR) scores. This metric shows the relative strength of a website’s backlink profile. Stronger sites like these have more PageRank that they can pass to pages with internal links to help them rank. 

Bottom line? If you want your pages to get search traffic, you really only have two options:

  1. Target uncompetitive topics that you can rank for with few or no backlinks.
  2. Target competitive topics and build backlinks to rank.

If you want to find uncompetitive topics, try this:

  1. Enter a topic into Keywords Explorer
  2. Go to the Matching terms report
  3. Set the Keyword Difficulty (KD) filter to max. 20
  4. Set the Lowest DR filter to your site’s DR (this will show you keywords with at least one of the same or lower DR ranking in the top 5)
Filtering for low-competition keywords in Ahrefs' Keywords ExplorerFiltering for low-competition keywords in Ahrefs' Keywords Explorer

(Remember to keep an eye on the TP column to make sure they have traffic potential.)

To rank for more competitive topics, you’ll need to earn or build high-quality backlinks to your page. If you’re not sure how to do that, start with the guides below. Keep in mind that it’ll be practically impossible to get links unless your content adds something to the conversation. 

Reason 3. The page doesn’t match search intent

Google wants to give users the most relevant results for a query. That’s why the top organic results for “best yoga mat” are blog posts with recommendations, not product pages. 

It's obviously what searchers want when they search for "best yoga mats"It's obviously what searchers want when they search for "best yoga mats"

Basically, Google knows that searchers are in research mode, not buying mode.

It’s also why this page selling yoga mats doesn’t show up, despite it having backlinks from more than six times more websites than any of the top-ranking pages:

Page selling yoga mats that has lots of backlinksPage selling yoga mats that has lots of backlinks
Number of linking websites to the top-ranking pages for "best yoga mats"Number of linking websites to the top-ranking pages for "best yoga mats"

Luckily, the page ranks for thousands of other more relevant keywords and gets tens of thousands of monthly organic visits. So it’s not such a big deal that it doesn’t rank for “best yoga mats.”

Number of keyword rankings for the page selling yoga matsNumber of keyword rankings for the page selling yoga mats

However, if you have pages with lots of backlinks but no organic traffic—and they already target a keyword with traffic potential—another quick SEO win is to re-optimize them for search intent.

We did this in 2018 with our free backlink checker.

It was originally nothing but a boring landing page explaining the benefits of our product and offering a 7-day trial: 

Original landing page for our free backlink checkerOriginal landing page for our free backlink checker

After analyzing search intent, we soon realized the issue:

People weren’t looking for a landing page, but rather a free tool they could use right away. 

So, in September 2018, we created a free tool and published it under the same URL. It ranked #1 pretty much overnight, and has remained there ever since. 

Our rankings over time for the keyword "backlink checker." You can see when we changed the pageOur rankings over time for the keyword "backlink checker." You can see when we changed the page

Organic traffic went through the roof, too. From ~14K monthly organic visits pre-optimization to almost ~200K today. 

Estimated search traffic over time to our free backlink checkerEstimated search traffic over time to our free backlink checker


96.55% of pages get no organic traffic. 

Keep your pages in the other 3.45% by building backlinks, choosing topics with organic traffic potential, and matching search intent.

Ping me on Twitter if you have any questions. 🙂

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Firefox URL Tracking Removal – Is This A Trend To Watch?




Firefox URL Tracking Removal - Is This A Trend To Watch?

Firefox recently announced that they are offering users a choice on whether or not to include tracking information from copied URLs, which comes on the on the heels of iOS 17 blocking user tracking via URLs. The momentum of removing tracking information from URLs appears to be gaining speed. Where is this all going and should marketers be concerned?

Is it possible that blocking URL tracking parameters in the name of privacy will become a trend industrywide?

Firefox Announcement

Firefox recently announced that beginning in the Firefox Browser version 120.0, users will be able to select whether or not they want URLs that they copied to contain tracking parameters.

When users select a link to copy and click to raise the contextual menu for it, Firefox is now giving users a choice as to whether to copy the URL with or without the URL tracking parameters that might be attached to the URL.

Screenshot Of Firefox 120 Contextual Menu

Screenshot of Firefox functionality

According to the Firefox 120 announcement:

“Firefox supports a new “Copy Link Without Site Tracking” feature in the context menu which ensures that copied links no longer contain tracking information.”

Browser Trends For Privacy

All browsers, including Google’s Chrome and Chrome variants, are adding new features that make it harder for websites to track users online through referrer information embedded in a URL when a user clicks from one site and leaves through that click to visit another site.

This trend for privacy has been ongoing for many years but it became more noticeable in 2020 when Chrome made changes to how referrer information was sent when users click links to visit other sites. Firefox and Safari followed with similar referrer behavior.

Whether the current Firefox implementation would be disruptive or if the impact is overblown is kind of besides the point.

What is the point is whether or not what Firefox and Apple did to protect privacy is a trend and if that trend will extend to more blocking of URL parameters that are stronger than what Firefox recently implemented.

I asked Kenny Hyder, CEO of online marketing agency Pixel Main, what his thoughts are about the potential disruptive aspect of what Firefox is doing and whether it’s a trend.

Kenny answered:

“It’s not disruptive from Firefox alone, which only has a 3% market share. If other popular browsers follow suit it could begin to be disruptive to a limited degree, but easily solved from a marketers prospective.

If it became more intrusive and they blocked UTM tags, it would take awhile for them all to catch on if you were to circumvent UTM tags by simply tagging things in a series of sub-directories.. ie.<tag1>/<tag2> etc.

Also, most savvy marketers are already integrating future proof workarounds for these exact scenarios.

A lot can be done with pixel based integrations rather than cookie based or UTM tracking. When set up properly they can actually provide better and more accurate tracking and attribution. Hence the name of my agency, Pixel Main.”

I think most marketers are aware that privacy is the trend. The good ones have already taken steps to keep it from becoming a problem while still respecting user privacy.”

Some URL Parameters Are Already Affected

For those who are on the periphery of what’s going on with browsers and privacy, it may come as a surprise that some tracking parameters are already affected by actions meant to protect user privacy.

Jonathan Cairo, Lead Solutions Engineer at Elevar shared that there is already a limited amount of tracking related information stripped from URLs.

But he also explained that there are limits to how much information can be stripped from URLs because the resulting negative effects would cause important web browsing functionality to fail.

Jonathan explained:

“So far, we’re seeing a selective trend where some URL parameters, like ‘fbclid’ in Safari’s private browsing, are disappearing, while others, such as TikTok’s ‘ttclid’, remain.

UTM parameters are expected to stay since they focus on user segmentation rather than individual tracking, provided they are used as intended.

The idea of completely removing all URL parameters seems improbable, as it would disrupt key functionalities on numerous websites, including banking services and search capabilities.

Such a drastic move could lead users to switch to alternative browsers.

On the other hand, if only some parameters are eliminated, there’s the possibility of marketers exploiting the remaining ones for tracking purposes.

This raises the question of whether companies like Apple will take it upon themselves to prevent such use.

Regardless, even in a scenario where all parameters are lost, there are still alternative ways to convey click IDs and UTM information to websites.”

Brad Redding of Elevar agreed about the disruptive effect from going too far with removing URL tracking information:

“There is still too much basic internet functionality that relies on query parameters, such as logging in, password resets, etc, which are effectively the same as URL parameters in a full URL path.

So we believe the privacy crackdown is going to continue on known trackers by blocking their tracking scripts, cookies generated from them, and their ability to monitor user’s activity through the browser.

As this grows, the reliance on brands to own their first party data collection and bring consent preferences down to a user-level (vs session based) will be critical so they can backfill gaps in conversion data to their advertising partners outside of the browser or device.”

The Future Of Tracking, Privacy And What Marketers Should Expect

Elevar raises good points about how far browsers can go in terms of how much blocking they can do. Their response that it’s down to brands to own their first party data collection and other strategies to accomplish analytics without compromising user privacy.

Given all the laws governing privacy and Internet tracking that have been enacted around the world it looks like privacy will continue to be a trend.

However, at this point it time, the advice is to keep monitoring how far browsers are going but there is no expectation that things will get out of hand.

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