No Noise Friday 05 September’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!

If your business has anything to do with the online world you know how much information is out there. It’s overwhelming and constantly changing.  Finding out what’s relevant to your business amongst all the noise is time consuming and can result in information overload.

At SureFire Search 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.

Here’s what caught our attention this week…

  1. No ranking benefit from HTTPS (yet)
  2. Author Rank lives after death of Google Authorship
  3. AdWords advertisers can upload HTML5 ads 
  4. Global survey: consumers buying more online
  5. Organic search drives 51% of traffic, Social only 5%

1.No ranking benefit from HTTPS (yet)

A recent SearchMetrics study has shown what was predicted by most industry experts – no ranking benefit in Google after sites were migrated from HTTP to HTTPS.

Google anounced in August 2014 that HTTPS would give sites a small ranking boost as HTTPS became a ranking signal. Granted, its only been a couple of weeks since the announcement but according to Marcus Tober there’s no data that supports HTTPs having any impact on the rankings.

He is quoted as saying:

In a nutshell: No relationships have been discernible to date from the data analyzed by us between HTTPS and rankings nor are there any differences between HTTP and HTTPS. In my opinion therefore, Google has not yet rolled out this ranking factor – and/or this factor only affects such a small section of the index to date that it was not possible to identify it with our data.

He also shared a graph showing the data for HHTP vs HTTPS URLs and their ranking change.


Why should you care?

It’s early days and Google did say that it would only be a very minor signal. SureFire has previously pointed out that there are at least 50 more important things that you can do for your website to increase rankings.

If you are considering changing to HTTPS the main reason shouldn’t be to increase rankings – it should be to provide security for you website users.

If you have a website that takes payments or has a members area protected by a login; then HTTPS is a good way to protect that information.  Another bonus is that a certificate from a trusted SSL provider can help increase some types of conversions because it indicates to the user / consumer that your website is secure.

2.Author Rank lives after death of Google Authorship

It’s important to understand that Author Rank and Google Authorship are two different entities. The recent demise of Google Authorship may have been misleading to some – Google Authorship is dead (for now) but Author Rank is still alive and well.

Google Authorship was a way that Google let authors identify themselves in the search results through a markup code within the webpage. Google ended Authorship recently.

What is Author Rank?

Author rank is separate from Authorship. It’s the idea that if Google knows who is writing the content and that author is deemed by Google to be someone trustworthy – they might positively alter the rankings to adjust for that author.

Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt talked about this idea in his book – “The New Digital Age”

Within search results, information tied to verified online profiles will be ranked higher than content without such verification, which will result in most users naturally clicking on the top (verified) results. The true cost of remaining anonymous, then, might be irrelevance.

However, the question is how will Google know who the author is now that Authorship is dead? The answer is that Google has many ways of knowing who the author is.

One of these is likely to be the byline that appears on most stories, articles or posts.

Why should you care?

Author Rank is only a very limited part of Google search. However, it may grow beyond that.

There’s the very old saying that ‘content is king’ and that one of the best ways to rank well in Google is to make sure that you’re consistently putting out great, engaging and relevant content.

Make sure that the content that you produce is something that you want associated with your name. There may come a time in the future where Google increases the weight of Author Rank and ranks more highly information or websites associated to a trusted source – you want that source to be you.

3.AdWords advertisers can upload HTML5 ads

Google recently added the ability for AdWords advertisers to upload HTML5 ads provided that they are built with Google Web Designer into Google Display Network campaigns.

Why should you care?

The short answer is mobile. People are constantly connected and use mobile devices to communicate, research, shop and for online entertainment.

The number of people using mobile to access the internet is exploding. Right now around 25% of all global page views occur on a mobile device such as a smartphone or tablet. The number of consumers that are using the web in HTML5 compatible environments far exceeds Flash compatible environments.

This means that if you want your advert to reach the most people online you should build your rich media ads in HTML5.

AdWords can convert uploaded Flash files into identical HTML5 adverts. However, if you want to design a more customised ad experience that uses rich media ads – you can now upload HTML5 ads that are built in Google Web Designer.

4.Global survey: consumers buying more online

Nielsen’s new “Global Survey of E-commerce” report has revealed that “online purchase intent rates have more than doubled for half of the 22 consumer product categories.”


The diagram below shows the uptake in the categories measured.

Nielsen's Global Survey of E-commerce report


The chart reveals some interesting results. Airline tickets and reservations increased from 33% to 48%; a 15% increase in 3 years. Tours and hotel reservations increased from 27% to 44%; a 17% increase in 3 years.

However, these could be called E-commerce gimmes because of course they were going to increase over time as technology continues to improve.

What’s really interesting is the increase for physical products. Products that traditionally people may have been wary of buying sight unseen and in the past purchased them from a brick & mortar location. For example; there was a 12% increase in Baby and Pet products.

The report also revealed categories that people tended to do more online browsing than buying. These categories included electronics, mobile phones and computer hardware.

Why should you care?

This report is probably showing you nothing that you didn’t already know. As technology improves more and more people are shopping online.

However, it does provide concrete evidence that if you are not online – you should be! You also need to have a website that people can find online. Your website needs to help consumers easily find what they are searching for and that you remove as much friction as possible from the purchasing process.

If you have been holding off setting up an E-commerce store because you sell products that traditionally people wanted to buy in-store then it may well be time to re-evaluate that position.

5. Organic search drives 51% of traffic, Social only 5%

BrightEdge has released a report that claims after analysing “billions of pieces” of content that organic search is the primary driver of website traffic.

The study shows that organic search is responsible for 51% of all visitors to B2B and B2C websites. This is larger than all other channels including paid search which came in at 10% and social which came in at 5%.

Traffic Source Results


The study got even more granular and showed the break down of the traffic sources as the pertained to specific industries. For example according to the study organic search attributed to 73% of all traffic to business service websites.

Traffic Sources By Industry Example

Why should you care?

According to this report organic search is still the most valuable source of traffic for all industries. However, you are only going to get a large amount of organic traffic if you are ranking well. To do this you need to make sure that your SEO house is in order and that you are following Googles & Bings on page and off page optimisation rules as best you can.

Talk to SureFire if you don’t know where to begin or you want to make sure your website is optimised correctly.

This report shouldn’t be taken as a reason to stop your paid search and social channels. Paid search is the fastest way to appear on the first page of Google and if used correctly can generate your business a large amount of traffic with buying intent.

Social channels are one of the best way to convert customers from people who like your business to people who love your business. This is done through engaging with them on a personal level through your social channels.

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

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About the Author SureFire

These search marketing news updates feature articles of interest picked up through the week by the SureFire team.

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