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Zero Moment of Truth: How It Works (and How to Work It!)

The ZMOT is a Google-coined term to describe a relatively new trend in consumer behavior. Learn what it is and how you can capitalize on it.

According to SEMrush, there are about 14,800 monthly searches for “how to check credit score.” That’s right on par with the search volume for “how to draw a bunny,” and only 7,400 searches behind “how to make a meme.” Aside from serving as a (somewhat concerning) reminder of our cultural priorities, these queries are a goldmine of opportunity for marketers in related industries.

In fact, if you’re in the business of credit score reporting, bunny-drawing tutorials, or meme-making engines, each of the above queries is an opportunity for prospective buyers to find your brand.

Google calls this touchpoint the Zero Moment of Truth (ZMOT) — and no matter what your business is, learning how the ZMOT works can help you work it in your favor.

So, how does the ZMOT work?

Unlike traditional advertising that pushes your product into potential buyers’ faces, digital marketing allows consumers to “stumble upon” brands in the right place, at the right time. (Which is why making sure your brand is THE brand they run into is GPO’s mission.)

Somewhere between identifying their problem and buying a solution, over 50% of prospective shoppers engage in online research. The best way to capitalize on this research stage is to create content that answers your target’s queries better, and before your competitors do.

How does the ZMOT look from a consumer standpoint?

The ZMOT happens when you reach for your phone at 3 AM to Google, “how to go to sleep fast” (monthly search volume 12,100). It occurs on the 123rd day of pandemic-induced isolation when you ask Siri, “best dog breed for apartments” (1900). And it happened in 2019 as thousands of girls in Philadelphia scoured the web for “VSCO girl outfits.”

What are some actionable ways to position my brand for ZMOT in 2020?

Google holds the number of searches conducted on its platform close to its chest. However, HubSpot estimates that the platform receives approximately 70,000 searches per second. Moreover, according to a report published by SparkToro, 45.25% of searches lead to organic clicks, and over 50% of them are zero-click searches — with a meager 4.42% left for paid clicks.

What do these numbers mean for you? Regardless of the industry you’re in — consider the SEO for ZMOT initiatives below to help your business be the business that answers searchers’ queries. You need to be present and visible at the exact moment a search is performed, and be present where you’ll be seen and clicked.

1. Incorporate long-tail keyphrases.

Generally, more specific searches are more likely to convert and less difficult to rank for. After all, a consumer searching for “fiddle leaf fig vs. ficus tree” is farther along in their decision-making process than someone who’s searching for the “best indoor trees.” Additionally, the highly-specific query is likely to have less competitors and a lower monthly volume than the latter. In keeping with the botanical example, we’ll summarize this by saying that when you’re planning content, you want to focus on the long-tail, low-hanging fruit. (Bonus points for making sure it’s evergreen!)

2. Create and scale your local content.

Out of 34 billion monthly searches in the U.S., 56% have local intent. This means that every month, 19 billion searches are conducted to find a business that carries a specific product or service within a geographic area. Furthermore, many of these searches begin without a brand in mind.

If you’re a multi-location (or multi-service area) brand, you have to ensure you’re not only ranking for keyphrases relevant to your business, but that you’re also ranking for them in every state, city, nearby city, and ZIP code you service!

3. Scale your product and/or service content.

Most SEOs agree that, when it comes to content writing for search, it’s best to have at least 300 words of content per page. That’s a lot of content to write if you have thousands of products. But it’s worth it!

Producing searchable, unique, and relevant product or service descriptions at scale helps searchers make informed purchase decisions. Not only can his turn searches into sales, but it can also improve your website’s bounce rates, on-site metric, and page views! In turn, search algorithms reward positive engagement signals from users with higher rankings and better domain authority.

When you combine local and product content-at-scale, you can help initiate a self-supplying cycle of ranking better because your users engage more with your site, and getting better engagement because your site ranks better.

4. Actively manage your online presence.

If your online properties don’t provide answers to searchers’ questions, someone else will. Whether that someone else is your competitor, a third-person on Quora, or a faceless Redditor depends on the question, your industry, and your luck. However, your online presence should not be left up to fate.

A comprehensive approach to presence management should help you keep business listing information accurate and consistent across all your digital platforms. Your presence management strategy should also be agile, allowing you to distribute data to business listings when things don’t go as planned — keeping your customers in the loop about sudden closures, updated hours, and even novel curbside pick-up/delivery options.

Final Thoughts on the ZMOT

A strategic SEO effort can help you capitalize on searchers’ spur-of-the-moment queries. Follow the steps above to start climbing the SERP. And if you feel overwhelmed by all this optimized content stuff, chat with an expert — we’ll be happy to guide you to solutions to help you grow your business!

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