In the last 6 months a lot has changed in the search engine landscape. Apart from Panda and Penguin I find myself explaining to both existing and new clients, how the expansion of the PPC real estate on the first page of Google affects SEO. There is no doubt that Google keeps on adding new options for advertisers to include ad extensions in different formats. Potentially the one with the biggest impact to SEO is product images. As a result these ads take up more and more space and push the natural listing in the first positions further down the page, diminishing their CTRs. So Google Adwords is making its PPC ads more attractive through various product extensions: why not apply this same logic to your SEO results? Here are some tips on how you can do this to improve the click through rate of your organic listings which I am going to baptise organic click through rate optimisation or OCTRO. 1. Product/Site Reviews on Google Shopping Adding product reviews on to an e-commerce site using html tags recognized by search engines will result in these reviews being displayed on organic listings, similar to the way Google Adwords displays them. Users search behaviour is becoming increasingly more sophisticated and when shopping use the dedicated shopping search feature provided by Google. Most e-commerce savy retailers apply product feeds to get their product indexed in these results but miss out on the power that reviews have to differentiate your organic listing on Google Shopping. In the example below we have two results for the same pet medicine product. One has a star rating with many more reviews than the other, and although is slightly more expensive it’s likely to convert better because of the reviews. 3. Meta Data Descriptions – Optimisation Meta data, really ?!?!? It’s been a long time since metadata has been accepted to have no ranking value. The days of keyword stuffing descriptions are long gone; meta descriptions give you the chance to sell your listing to the users. Don’t be lazy! Change your descriptions according to your seasonality, tell the world about your special offers and even dare to be different. Having the right message in your meta descriptions can make a big difference to click through rates. Don’t believe me? Test it yourself! For any of your pages that have stable rankings make changes to the metadata that you think might be more attractive. Then in webmaster tools go to traffic < search queries and see if your CTR has improved. Optimising the highest traffic contributing pages in your website can make a bid difference and again is an area that is highly undervalued and overlook by many. For all of those SEO geeks who already consider these factors and think this blog might be missing a little something stay tuned for my next blog were I will explain 3 more tips on howÂ to use; site links, rel=authors, G+ page linking.
I’m often asked about the benefits of running pay per click campaigns for keywords that a website already ranks highly for in the organic listings, particularly when the keywords are brand terms. Often, it’s not a straight forward answer, because as with many aspects of search things depend on the market sector, customer expectations, type of keyword, time of year, layout of the search page and many other factors. For that reason, when I noticed the following data this week, I thought I’d seize the opportunity to blog about it and use in future as evidence of one benefit of combining paid and organic search. I always struggle to recall good blog posts and studies on this anyway. Now, it’s important that I stipulate the following conditions of this keyword and website example because the data is easy to misunderstand. Without giving away my client’s keyword strategy, I can tell you this is a non-brand keyword, 2 words long and commonly used. The client has ranked 2nd in Google for over a year. The market is not one with well-known brands and so searchers are not influenced by familiar names in the SERPs. The following graphs show daily click data for the same keyword from Jan 1st to August 10th 2011. At the beginning of April, we reduced the bids for the Adwords keyword because the costs per conversion were simply too high to justify spend any longer. What is interesting to see is what that action did for clicks on the organic ranking. Since April, there are clearly fewer clicks on the same keyword in organic search. Paid (Jan 1st-Aug 10th 2011) Organic (Jan 1st-Aug 10th 2011) It’s a decent example of one of the benefits Google posits for Adwords: using paid search can help create more clicks for your site for your organic rankings as well as the ad itself. The reason is that searchers see 2 results for your site; double the amount of information and that creates a greater reassurance that your site is relevant for their query. As a result, they become more likely to click through. It’s particularly effective when they have never heard of anyone else in the results because they have only the information in front of them to go on.
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In the second half of 2010, Google began to roll out notable changes to Google Places. Some of these I have touched upon in my previous post and deserve a little deeper consideration. Some changes seem to be purely for the benefit of Google’s users, others seem beneficial to Google Places registered websites and some changes are unclear as to whom they benefit. This is all well and good, but over the last few months I’ve noticed, in many of my PPC accounts, CTRs dropping noticeably from location based keywords that have an average position of below 4. Why is this? Could this be related to the changes to Google Places? Firstly, let’s revisit the changes. To trigger Google places results, a user must search for a location based keyword, a good wintery example being “boiler repair London”.
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