First Thing Monday 06 Oct 14

The latest news about web marketing, SEO, PPC & Analytics. But only the stuff that matters from a New Zealand perspective. Less noise, more signal!

As a switched on marketer you’ll know how important your website is to the success of your business. Being aware of what’s happening in the fast moving world of SEO, PPC Advertising & Web Analytics is essential. But things change so fast and staying abreast of this can be overwhelming. Most people simply don’t have the time to do so, despite knowing how important it can be to their business.

At SureFire we want to help you by sifting through all the noise and highlighting what’s new and noteworthy in SEO, PPC and Web Analytics. But more importantly, answer the question – Why this might matter to YOU and YOUR business here in New Zealand.

So grab a coffee and spend a few minutes checking out what caught our attention this week…

  1. New study details importance of organic rank
  2. Goodbye & Good night Yahoo Directory
  3. Google told to stop Mixing & Matching
  4. Dynamic remarketing available to advertisers across all verticals
  5. Ad positions more important on Mobile

1.New study details importance of organic rank

A new study from Advanced Web Ranking has revealed some interesting data around click through rates in relation to Google’s organic search results.

We’ve seen studies of this kind before of course: the first study to be publicly released (albeit inadvertently) was by America OnLine (AOL) in 2006. AOL’s results, based on over 21 million search queries by half a million users, showed that the top five positions in search results netted 73.6% of organic clicks, with 89.7% of all organic clicks coming from first page results.

But organic search result pages have changed in many ways over the past eight years. And while there have been other studies, none have been as comprehensive as AOL’s, with results differing markedly depending on the methodologies used.

Given the many changes that Google has been making to its search results recently, what most interests us about this new study is that it is current and the company behind it has made a point in being transparent as to how the results were compiled. Advanced Web Ranking used Google Webmaster Tools data and a larger sample group (465,000 search terms and 5,000 websites) than less recent tests.

So, how different were the results from AOL’s in 2006? The results from the new study show that on average:

  • The top 5 positions had 67.6% of organic clicks
  • 71.3% of all organic clicks came from page one results.

The graph below shows the CTR when compared to exact position on desktop devices. It’s important to note that page two and three only get 5.6% of organic clicks.

Interestingly, this study reported that 23.1% of searches did not result in a click at all. Likely reasons for this are that people are finding what they want in a paid search result or a Google Knowledge Graph result or, if they are not seeing what they are looking for, they are refining their search.

Exact Position Graph Example 2

Why should you care?

It’s not headline news that you if you want to get organic search traffic to your site you need to be on page one for the searches that are relevant to your business, products and services. But, with the majority of clicks still going to positions 1-5, it’s also important that you have prominent placement on the first page of results. Getting there (and staying there) means you need to have a good SEO strategy in place.

While ranking well is obviously important, there’s no way to guarantee a top 5 rank on the first page unless you utilise AdWords – which was not the focus of this study.

What you can do, however, is make sure that Google can find your website, that you are following best practices for your on- and off-page SEO and that you’re producing great linkable content. If you need help, talk to us about an appropriate SEO strategy for your site.

2. Goodbye & Good night Yahoo Directory

On September 26 Yahoo announced that one of the first resources for exploring the web – the Yahoo Directory – would be shutting down for good.

Originating in 1994, the real surprise here is that the Yahoo Directory has lasted so long. True, the Open Directory Project (more recently known as DMOZ and currently owned by AOL) remains in existence. However, the days when manually reviewed website directories were both comprehensive and provided better results than search engines – well, those days are as dead as the search engines  (like AltaVista, InfoSeek, Lycos and Excite) that were around back then.

For old time’s sake, you can still use the Yahoo Directory through to the end of this year.

Why should you care?

The Yahoo Directory was essentially an editorially-compiled directory of websites that could be found on the internet. It was the resource to use before Google came along in 1998 with significantly better results than other search engines of the era. Although inclusion in the directory was originally free, a USD $299 annual fee has long been required with many people questioning its value in recent years. While there were SEO benefits in being included in the directory, those have diminished with successive changes to Google’s algorithms.

If you’ve been using the internet for as long as we have, you may remember this:

Yahoo Directory Example

You probably don’t use the Yahoo Directory any more but, with the closure of yet another of its legacy products, expect questions to be asked as to what Yahoo will do next.

3. Google told to stop Mixing & Matching

Google has been misbehaving badly according to the Hamburg Commissioner of Data Protection and Freedom of Information (HmbBfDI).

HmbBfDI has told Google that its profiling practices affects the privacy of users “beyond the admissible degree.”

The main area of concern is the fact that Google uses its multiple properties to collect data, which are then mixed and matched to form complete user profiles.

According to the Hamburg Commissioner, the different data Google has access to (and the fact that Google can combine this data) means that it may be possible for Google to:

  • Use locational data to compile different travel profiles
  • Use search engine data to identify niche interests and preferences
  • Discover users’ financial status, social activity and other habits

Why should you care?

By agreeing with Google’s current privacy policy you give Google permission to compile data. But who really reads all the terms and conditions? And are those terms and conditions reasonable and clearly explained? Perhaps more importantly, if you don’t agree with them are you really not going to use Google products?

There is legitimate and growing concern about just how much data companies such as Google and Facebook can and should be able to collect.

Johannes Caspar, Hamburg’s Data Protection Commissioner stated:

“The company (Google) must treat the data of its millions of users in a way that respects their privacy adequately while they use the various services of the company.”

The outcome of this is that, in Germany, Google faces fines unless it can show it has been given explicit permission by each and every individual user to collect and make use of their data.

Germany is leading the charge – will Europe follow? If Europe follows, will the rest of the world?

4. Dynamic remarketing available to advertisers across all verticals

Google has announced that over the next few weeks it will be rolling out dynamic remarketing to all verticals.

These new verticals include hotels; flights; real estate; classifieds; jobs; auto; finance; and education.

We think this is a pretty big deal, actually, but you may be wondering what exactly is dynamic remarketing.

You’ve probably heard of remarketing (also known as retargeting) and you’ve probably seen it in action. You went to a website, and looked at a few of the products being sold. Not long afterwards, you started noticing that ads for that website – perhaps even promoting the very products you looked at – were being shown to you on other sites, no matter where you were on the internet.

Dynamic remarketing was previously only available to retail sites providing product feeds to Google Merchant Center. It takes Google remarketing a step further by making it easy for advertisers to automate creation and launch of relevant remarketing ads that are specific to their vertical.

Why should you care?

Dynamic remarketing across more verticals means that you will have the ability to tailor an advertising message to your website visitors, and do so easily.

Beta clients that have had access to this new remarketing have reported a 2X increase in conversions rates and a 60% reduction in CPA on average when they added dynamic ads to their remarketing campaigns.

Dynamic remarketing templates are also available for mobile advertising – important, Google tells us, because when advertisers add effective mobile targeting to their remarketing campaigns they can see conversion increases up to 15%.

Dynamic remarketing is big news. We’re rolling this out to our clients over the next few weeks – if you’re interested or want to know more, please get in touch.

5. Ad positions more important on Mobile

It’s well known that search ranking positions affect click through rate (for paid ads as well as organic search results) but Marin Software has released new data comparing results for ad positions on mobile devices with those on desktops.

The data showed that although ad position is very important on desktop machines, but it’s even more important on smart phones. The likely reason of course is that fewer ads are shown on smartphones.

Top ad position on a smartphone gets around 39% of the clicks, according to the study, compared to 36% of tablet clicks and 30% for desktops.

CTR’s by Position

  • Top position on smartphones has a CTR of 4.9%. (4.3% tablet, 3.2% desktop)
  • Second position on smartphones has a CTR of 2.2% (2% tablet, 1.9% desktop)
  • Third position on smartphones has a CTR of 1.9% (1.6% tablet, 1.5% desktop)

Why should you care?

A high click through rate is no good if you aren’t getting website conversions at an affordable price. But, if you are, then improving your ad position – particularly on mobile devices – can increase your sales and leads.

Keep a close eye on profitability though, and make sure you do so by device type. Given the limited ad space, pricing can be even more competitive for mobile ads, and performance can be markedly different than for desktops and tablets.

If you’re worried that you’re not getting the results you’re expecting from your mobile ads, we’re here to help.

OK, that’s what we think. We’re keen to hear your thoughts on any of the above – please comment below. 

Click here to read previous editions of “First Thing Monday” web marketing news.

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About the Author Jeremy Templer & Mark Sceats

Jeremy and Mark are two of the partners behind SureFire Search. Despite their deceptively youthful appearances, both have worked in search marketing for many years. To put that in context, Google didn't even exist when Jeremy started.