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.