page one listings

Like many others I have speculated on the world directory that we call the internet – and it’s major librarian called Google.

In particular I and others have been interested to note that overwhelmingly the majority of our site traffic comes from Google – and most of that I am told comes from searches on the company name – in fact I noticed recently a respected blogger suggesting that 50% to 75% comes in this way – with 95% being within his experience.

So what is happening here?

The common suggestion is that people simply use Google as a convenient look-up for companies that they know since it is easier to type their name in than put every company they ever deal with on favourites – and since the company site invariably comes up at the top of searches it is a very quick way to an already known website. Type in the first few letters and Google will suggest a name, then a couple more clicks and you are there – easy.

Another as yet little considered idea is that people are typing in the name in response to some other stimulus – such as a word of mouth recommendation or a printed advertisement or from a newsletter or e-mail shot vaguely remembered but now passed by. Indeed the link between printed advertising and internet searches is obvious but ill defined – however the printed media continues to thrive in some sectors which suggests at least that many advertisers believe this link is worthwhile.

Further the general wisdom and statistical evidence has it that the place to be on Google is at the top of page 1 and as part of this view we see a continuing trend in the way that Google seems to be monitising it’s page 1 presentation, with more of the page being given over to pay per click advertisments. This pushes unpaid results down the page making it more inviting for a searcher to click on the top result – which of course happens to be pay per click. This parallels the trend to mobile phone access, with small screens presenting perhaps just 3 results – and say 2 of them ppc adverts on the first page, probably encouraging people to click on an advert rather than an organic search – they don’t care if the advertiser has to pay for their search – it doesn’t cost them £2 or £3 per click.

They search – the advertiser pays – fair enough you may think – but a worrying situation for advertisers I would have thought. If up to 95% of searches are for the company name and this comes up at the top of the page as an Adword then that click is paid for at whatever the going rate happens to be. So effectively the pay per click advertiser is in danger of paying 95% of their ppc budget just to serve company name searches which would have come up organically anyway – and in fact are paying twice if the original prompt came from a printed advert.

 

I am often amused by people’s fascination with getting themselves on page one of organic searches – as an agency we have never tried to achieve this – rather it has beeen a pleasant and surprising side effect of what we consider as “just doing the job right”.

To the point where we have clients with from 100 to over 200 keyword searches that we check 3 monthly and find them on page 1 of organic searches for anything from 50 to 100 of them. It is quite a buzz to put in an industry relevant search term and find our client on page one 5 times – the client is pleased too!

There seems to be confusion over what is important and what we are trying to achieve – yes it is great to get your own website high up the listings – but there are a number of other considerations:

1. 3rd party listings gained through PR, Content Marketing and Social Media will get listed much more easily and more quickly because the directories and journals are more valued than a single manufacturers site – and their listing for you will still take people to you. Such listings will also keep out your competition. We frequently find our clients listings appearing on page 1  a number of times eg 3, 4 or 5 times for a single search string. These listings seem to get picked up very quickly and to stay relevant for many months.

2. Your blog is likely to get higher value than your website if you are keeping it active – not only does a blog get picked up quickly it can be quite a stable listing.

3. Your website can get up the listings supported by the value accrued from your total activity and traffic. Once there it is usually quite stable if you maintain your online activity.