Over the years, the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) have changed a lot. Features like news, images, videos and the Knowledge Graph have impacted the display, sorting and order of SERPs, dramatically impacting organic listings.
Recently, Google decided that paid search ads will no longer appear on the right-hand side of search results for desktop users and up to 4 paid search results will appear at the top of the page.
Paid search ads that fall below the 4th rank will appear at the bottom of the page, which has limited visibility to end users, for a total of 7 ads per page max.
This is a big change, but how does it really impact organic search?
Like many companies, Google has seen mobile traffic grow at an accelerated pace over the past two years. This new layout makes the desktop experience very similar to the current mobile SERP. It will allow Google to provide more relevant results for end users and also provide better performance for advertisers
The key here is the fact that Google is very good at understanding intent. Google can distinguish a transactional query from an informational query.
How does this impact organic search?
Now that paid search ads are taking up more organic space, click-through rates for organic search listings, especially in the first two positions will probably decrease because the organic results have been pushed farther down the page.
Since the organic search results will be relegated to further down the list, this will cause more advertisers to get more visibility from the top paid search ads, but it comes at a high cost.
If brands really want to get the most out of search, they will need to create an integrated organic and paid search strategy with focus on top rankings and paid ads to maintain visibility and be in front of their target audiences.
With more paid listings appearing you will need to focus paid landing pages towards searchers in the buying/decision-making stages, whereas your organic landing pages should be better positioned (and possibly expanded) to gain visitors in the research/tought stages.
In summary, it will be more important to rank in the first two organic positions to capture the most clicks and visibility from organic search.
Since the organic results are getting pushed further down the page, both paid and SEO must work together to gain the best results.
The SERPs will continue to evolve as Google looks for new and innovative ways to make the desktop experience similar to the current mobile SERP and provide the most relevant results for end users.
Agencies and brands must adapt and put together results-driven strategies and tactics using both paid and organic search together to maximize ROI, capture more conversions and provide end users with relevant content in their moment of need.
What is an SSL used for?
The primary purpose of an SSL is to keep the information between a website and its users encrypted so only they are able to read it. This is important because when information is transmitted across the internet it passes through many different computers all of which can read and record it.
That means that any computer between you and the website can read credit card details, usernames and passwords. When an SSL is this information becomes unreadable to those computers.
In addition to this encryption an SSL also provides authentication ensuring that a user is sending information to your website and not that belonging to a criminal. Again, because information passes through many computers without an SSL any of these could impersonate your website and trick users into sending their personal details.
Why is an SSL needed on my website?
Ecommerce sites are required to transmit and receive sensitive information including credit card and contact details. Most websites provide administrators with the ability to edit content through a log-in area that requires a username and password to access. In both cases if an SSL is not used that information can be stolen by a third party and be used for criminal means.
Do I need an SSL if I don’t run an ecommerce shop?
There are numerous reasons why an SSL is beneficial even if your website is not ecommerce and does not have a log-in/administration area.
Google stated in 2015 that they are using the presence of an SSL on a website as a ranking signal. That is, a website with an SSL will rank above a website without all things being equal. Continuing into 2016 Google will place more and more emphasis on an SSL as a factor. Furthermore Google has plans to alter its chrome browser to show websites without an SSL as “insecure” which could serve as scare tactics pushing potential customers to a rival.
Integrity of the content you are serving on your website
Once you secure your website with an SSL certificate a third party cannot alter the content that is going to be received by the end user. Here you can assure your website visitors that the content they are viewing is the same as you are publishing. Without an SSL a third party can alter the content of your website before it is received by adding adverts or more dangerous content such as viruses.
Authentication of the Website and its content
An SSL verifies that you are who you say you are. A website secured by an SSL and verified by certificate authority means your customer can easily recognize that the information is genuine and not from someone else. This is especially important if your website contains content such as technical specifications, health, finance or other information of this nature.
A signal of trust to the user
Web browsers give a visual indicator when a site uses an SSL. While they may not be aware of exactly how it functions users know that the padlock logo that appears on an SSL enabled site is “good”. The use of an SSL tells users of your website that you consider their security and privacy to be important.
For further information please contact Wave White on 0121 766 8087 or email email@example.com
Let’s face it: Customers aren’t reading your testimonials page. So what can you put in its place?
2015 was an insane year for Local Search — especially in the latter half. We lost the 7-pack, and now the recent Google Plus update has removed all location information from business pages. Until Google rolls out another update to Local, your business listing is effectively your Knowledge Box and your listing on Google Maps. Reviews have always been important, and while they’ve lost a bit of the strength they used to carry in the Local algorithm, they’re still incredibly important to potential customers. Reviews started showing in isolated pop-ups back in 2013, but now that’s the only place you can see them. Now, I’m not going to start spouting off stats about how people trust reviews from strangers or how bad reviews will hurt your business. You’re here on Search Engine Land, so you’re likely already familiar with such information. Now that location info has been pulled from Google Plus, your reviews area is a much bigger piece of the local info pie. There’s no more business description, or photos, or categories, or anything else to distract users — they’ll only see your business name, address and phone number… and your reviews. If you’ve read any of my previous posts here, you know that I typically base my posts on recent conversations with businesses and clients. This time around, I’m jumping back on a soapbox.
Your Testimonials Page Does Nothing For You
Yep. I said it — and it’s true. And yes, I’m sure a lot of you are freaking out right now. For some reason, I’m seeing more and more testimonial pages on sites lately. Yes, reviews are important. And yes, your customers want to read your reviews. But they don’t want to read them on your site. Check your Google Analytics and see for yourself. It’s likely that the only traffic your testimonials page sees is from your own staff. If you’ve got a filter set up to remove your own internal traffic, it’s even easier to see. Customers want to read honest, unbiased reviews on third-party sites. They simply don’t care about (or trust) the reviews on your testimonials page. Still don’t believe me? I’ll prove it to you. If I came to your place of business and had a bad experience, then decided to write a scathing one-star review, would you post that at the top of your testimonials page? Of course not — and people know that. Everyone knows that a testimonials page only lists the best of the best five-star reviews, so they’re not going to read them. They’re checking out your reviews to see if there are any bad reviews… and to see how you respond to the bad reviews. Even if you post every review to your testimonials page (the good and the bad), the general public will always assume that your page only includes awesome reviews. They’ll skip the page just like everyone else.
Instead Of Testimonials, Link To Off-Site Reviews
Since customers will ignore your testimonials, you should instead create a “reviews” page that links to the various websites where customers can read the reviews they’re looking for. You’ll obviously want Google at the top of the list, since Google reviews are the most visible. Make sure to include any vertical directories that customers might frequent, as well. Include some messaging at the top of the page that lets users know that you’d like them to read what past customers have said, just like you’d include on a standard testimonials page. When you list the various links, make sure that you include target=”_blank” so that the links will open in a new browser tab — that way, your customers won’t have to navigate back to your site. Don’t forget that it’s a bad idea to link to your Yelp listing, since that’s discouraged by Yelp. Instead, do a Google search for “[your business] Yelp” and copy the resulting URL. Use the SERP link as your link to Yelp, so people will click the link, see your Yelp listing as the #1 result, and then click on it. Customers still end up on your Yelp page, but Yelp sees the visit as coming from an organic search. Instead of a testimonials page that no one reads, you’ll have a reviews page that customers find incredibly useful. If you pair the page with a postcard that you hand out to customers (like I wrote about back in 2014), it can even help you get more positive reviews from your customers.
Google Become Alphabet in a Huge Restructure
Recently, Google announced that they would no longer be functioning under the well-known brand, but restructuring as ‘Alphabet’. This will be the overriding holding company, with Google becoming a subsidiary of this.
The whole shake-up has emerged from the top, with Google’s co-founders, Larry Page & Sergey Brin, stating that the entire company will be changing, with big alterations to the structure and management; the biggest change being that Sundar Puchai will now oversee the search engine, Google.
This restructure comes as part of an initiative to give investors chance to see where their money is going and exactly what it’s being spent on. With the huge success of the search engine, it’s clear that Google, or ‘Alphabet’, can play its hand elsewhere.
The new company, Alphabet, will preside over a collection of companies, the largest of which will be Google.
All shares of Google will automatically convert into corresponding shares of Alphabet, which will continue to trade under the stock ticker symbols GOOG and GOOGL. Shares in Google soared 5% in after hours trading. The new structure is said to be similar to Warren Buffett’s Berkshire Hathaway, which wholly owns a number of diverse holdings and has stakes in several others.
It seems that Google will continue to push the main Internet products that the business has to offer, but Alphabet will expand and increase the growing need for other products and business sectors. Statements suggest that the separation of the companies will enable them to independently market items that aren’t entirely related.
It remains to be seen whether Google will simply continue to tell shareholders to be content with their profits when it comes to some major business segments.
You may have heard recently about the launch of the new UK DOMAIN SUFFIX .uk from the UK Domain Registrar NOMINET.
You may feel you wish to secure it for your company to match your current domain name(s)?
If you did, it would ensure that no other company could try to seek advantage of your company’s internet credibility, by replicating a website on your domain name(s). We feel that all of our clients would benefit from securing them.
We are currently offering a special concessionary rate and this domain name can then be directed to your main website.
For more information, please contact Wave White, our Customer Relationship Manager on 0121 7668087 or alternatively email firstname.lastname@example.org
Take a look at our new Social Media Packages that have been designed to work along side your current SEO Campaign.
A Social Media Package with us will enhance you websites presence across the internet as well as providing you with a source of Social Media content for your business.
If you’ve seen your ranking results improve over the past year but haven’t seen an equal measure of new business, it is likely that your website needs a refresh. With the Internet now more competitive than it has ever been, it is not enough to be visible to customers, you need to really grab the opportunity to turn their casual browsing into a solid enquiry or sale.
A website refresh needn’t be an expensive affair, but there are a few important points to consider:
- 1. Is your site visible to all browsers?
Does your site display equally well on desktop PCs, mobile phones and tablets? Or are you missing out on a sizeable chunk of the market. The chances are, if your site was built more than three years ago then it won’t be responsive to all viewing platforms and will need to be updated.
- 2. Are you sending the right message?
From their entry point on the site, can your customers understand what you do, find what they need and get the resolution they require in a few simple clicks? If your site is cluttered and difficult to navigate it is likely that your customers will lose interest and move onto the next site. After all, it costs them nothing to browse.
- 3. Is your information up-to-date?
Keeping your site up to date is paramount. Can you administer any special offers? Make price changes? Update contact or address details? Making sure you have a regular supply of fresh new content on the site not only holds the interest of your customers, but it also satisfies Google too, making an increase in rankings more likely.
- 4. How attractive are you to customers?
Browsers online are usually looking for the following three things: a company who can deliver what they are looking for, competitive prices and good reputation. It is so important that you get this information displayed on your website in a clear way. A conversion specialist can help you to understand how to clearly communicate with your customer and maximise your chances of increased business.
eSterling are happy to offer all existing clients a free website health check, which focuses on improving the design of your site. Remember, a good design not only has a positive impact on your potential customers, it will also help to improve your SEO results. We are offering a 10% discount for all design work ordered during December 2013 and would be more than happy to discuss your website with you. Please get in touch today.
As ludicrous as it sounds, there are only 106 days left until Christmas and whilst the sane amongst us are still hanging desperately onto barbeque season and flip flops, the retailers amongst us know that now is the time to get ready for the festive season. The mince pies are in the supermarkets, the incidence of toy adverts on the television is steadily increasing and consumers, whether they know it or not, are being subtly herded towards the bright lights and ringing tills of Christmas shopping.
Now is the time to make sure your website is ready for the approaching season of madness, take stock, decide on any strategies or special offers and make sure your web development company has details of any changes you want to make sooner rather than later. Christmas 2013 is going to be tough for retailers but with a slight upward trend in the amount of consumer spending, for the well-prepared things are looking up. So, what to do to get your website ready?
1. Freshen up.
Have a good check through your content. It is always a good idea to change or add to your website, keeping your content fresh not only gives you Google points, but it keeps your customers interested too. If your site has a featured products section, start adding in your best-sellers or any new ranges. Make sure any photography is professional and shows off your products to their best advantage.
2. Special Offers.
Consider running some seasonal offers. Online purchasers love little extras like free delivery and that can make the difference between them choosing your site and someone else’s for their gifts. Most modern ecommerce systems will allow you to display linked products (customers who bought this also bought that). Alternatively a good old-fashioned BOGOF always goes down a treat.
3. Keep things simple.
Making your website hassle-free is one major way of improving your customer commitment. Look at how smoothly your search function works, and how easy it is for customers to checkout. Keep things simple and give good customer service and people will come back.
4. Don’t go mad on the tinsel.
Although you want to get ready for the festive market, don’t over-do the Christmas vibe. Gradually introduce changes to the site to get ready for the bells and whistles of December, but don’t go for it too early.
If you need to discuss any promotional changes to your website, or would like further information on website design, get in touch with eSterling today. We offer full design and development services to ensure your website is at the heart of your business.
Anyone who pays any attention whatsoever to the world of web design will by now be very familiar with mobile sites and the concept of responsive design (and if you aren’t, you can read more here).
Well, now there’s another reason to perfect your mobile presence – Google have now decided to take the smartphone-friendliness of a website into consideration when determining where a site ranks in its SERPS – meaning if your site can’t strut it’s stuff on the small screen, you could be losing even more traffic than before.
Google have announced in a recent blog post that they are planning to roll out algorithm updates that will penalise websites that are incorrectly configured for mobile browsing.
Here are a few of the most common errors made in mobile sites, and our advice for avoiding them:
Correct Your Redirect
A common strategy for providing a mobile site alongside your desktop website is to use different URLs to serve different pages. This tactic can work very well, as it allows you to lay out the content on your pages in a different format that is better suited for smaller screens and touch-based interaction. However, these redirects must be handled correctly in order to provide a consistent experience for the user with minimal frustration.
A mistake that often crops up with this sort of configuration is directing smartphone users to a set page (most often the home page), no matter which desktop page they are trying to access – requiring extra work from the user in order to navigate back to the page they originally attempted to visit in the first place! Naturally, this can be a source of annoyance for the user, and can result in them leaving your site in search of something less tedious to find their way around.
The solution for this issue is simple – make sure each page redirects to its own respective mobile-friendly page. If the content is not available in mobile form, then directing the user to the home page or other related page is preferable to serving a 404 page – but still not really ideal.
The difficulty that mobile platforms have with video content is well documented, and a topic for lengthy discussion in its own right. However, if you’re serving unplayable video content to your mobile users, pretty soon you can expect to see a drop in your search rankings.
The solution for this problem is (perhaps unsurprisingly) to avoid Flash content on mobile sites in general, as it is unsupported in iOS and Android version 4.1 and higher. To include video content, it is possible to use the new HTML5 markup
<video> tag, which should work without a hitch on all mobile platforms.
If you also provide a mobile app, it would seem only logical to promote this app to users browsing on a mobile device – and this can seem like a perfectly user-friendly move too, as your app may provide a better interface for your users to interact with similar content. However, advertising your app through interstitials or other methods which disrupt the conventional user experience of your site will soon start to have a negative impact on your site’s rankings, as well as annoying your users.
This doesn’t mean that you can’t try to entice mobile users with your shiny new app – as long as it is done tastefully. Google recommends using a “simple banner” displayed inline, alongside the rest of your website’s content. This can mean either a standard HTML image banner or utilising the support offered by the device’s native browser and operating system – for example Smart App Banners for Safari on iOS6.
More Speed, Less Haste
On top of these new rules concerning content, Google’s head of search spam Matt Cutts has alluded to a site speed penalty for mobile sites, similar to the penalty imposed on slow loading desktop sites. Whilst not much information has been disclosed at the minute, it’s fairly safe to assume that as mobile users are often connected to the internet via low-speed cellular connections, the load time that must be achieved will probably be significantly faster than in the desktop speed test.
As is usually the case with Google’s algorithm updates, these new guidelines will help to make the web a better place – both for webmasters and users themselves. Here at eSterling, we welcome them with open arms, and look forward to the mobile web becoming more user-centric and streamlined.
If you’d like to read more on the issues which may cause your mobile site to lose rankings, Google has helpfully compiled a list of common mistakes in smartphone sites to help you out.
As always, if there’s anything in this post which you wish to discuss or would like some more information on, please leave us a message in the comments or email us here.