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Google Tries to Steal How-To Traffic in Organic Search Results

ashleyzeckman
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Think back to your childhood. You waited all year to dress up for Halloween and go door-to-door collecting sweet treats to add to your bag. You check all of your loot before going to bed just to see what you have. However, you wake up in the morning and half of your candy is gone.

That is how many publishers have felt about Google stealing their traffic by providing more and more answers to questions in their Knowledge Graph. Google is essentially stealing your hard-earned traffic and keeping it for themselves.

Now Google is going so far as to provide how-to step-by-step instructions on everything from boiling an egg to changing a tire. Below are some of the results that we've uncovered by way of some simple Google searches.

Warm Apple Pie

When trying to come up with how-to items to search, my mind immediately went to food. I searched [how to make apple pie] (because who isn't craving apple pie at 8 a.m.?). There were a few things I noticed about this result that I found interesting:

  • The source for the step-by-step instructions was directly from the first organic link.
  • There wasn't a "more items" notification indicating I should click on the link for further instructions.
  • The answers were more generic than I would have hoped: "gently mix filling ingredients." OK, what are the filling ingredients?

Google how to make apple pie

Something Everyone Should Know How to Do

Every man I've ever known has told me that every woman should know how to change a tire. Sure, I've seen it done more than 10 times but I'm still not confident I could do it on my own.

When I Googled [how to change tire], there were simple step-by-step instructions. Google's Knowledge Graph also indicated that there were additional instructions and I would need to click on the link provided to learn more. The result used in this instance was the second organic search results under wikihow.com.

Google how to change tire

Shaken, Not Stirred

Lastly I decided to search for instructions on how to make a classic cocktail. My search query was [how to make a martini]. Based on the results I could most likely figure out how to make a martini, but the results left out what I would consider to be some pertinent information, without indicating that there are additional steps.

What I found to be most interesting about this query was that the result displayed in Google's Knowledge Graph was pulled from the eighth organic search result. That leads me to wonder what Google's criteria is for determining where they pull information.

Google how to make martini

How Can You Protect Your Loot?

The biggest gripe from most publishers is not that Google Knowledge Graph is displaying their content, but that it is displayed in a way that many times won't require the user to click the link to visit their site.

We all know as marketers and users, you rarely look at just one tidbit of information on a website. Chances are you start poking around and discovering other resources as well, which is what publishers are banking on.

What (if anything) do you think can be done to protect your site and keep Google from thieving your traffic?


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