The rise of mobile and tablet use has meant that in 2012 1 in every 3 minutes spent online is through one of these two devices. Smartphones have not been with us very long and already they take up a third of our time on the internet.
The year of the mobile?
Are Tablets the New Laptops?
What this means for SEO and SEM
A few months ago, Aaron Wall from SEOBook made a survey about the behavior and the knowledge of the US internet users toward the search engine and especially toward Google.
Among the various topics he analyzed, you find out how people choose their search engine, how many they use, what they do if they don’t find satisfying results, what they think of Google and what they know about SEO and Internet.
Usage of Search Engine
Here’s the first surprise: even though it’s quite logical that the users choose the most relevant search engine, it appears that women are more likely to use the default. The younger (18-24) are also easier to influence with advertising.
This is a very important if you’re advertising a very precise group of people depending on their age and gender. But you should not forget that almost half of them use more than one search engine.
User Behavior on the Search Engine
What if they don’t find what they were looking for on the first page? Apparently, 56% of them would make a new search request and the rest would go on the second page. The split is fairly consistent among men and women. But if your website is SEO-friendly, there is no way it can happen, right? Else… you know what to do!
Apparently, the fact that Google promotes preferentially its own listings on its SERPs is not appreciated by its users as 3 in 4 people believe that a search engine is supposed to be objective.
What about the paid results?
65% thinks it’s often disappointing. However more than half of the 25-34 people think it’s ok as long as they’re relevant. Once again, you should know who you’re targeting.
And Google+ influenced results?
It must be very hard for Google since 65% haven’t noticed the difference. The others either think it’s better or worse. Don’t worry, Google is investing a lot of money to improve its social network that now have more than 110 millions of users. If you haven't started your Google+ page, see why you should start being active on Google+.
How aware are the consumer of common SEO/SEM term
They were asked about 5 words and the result is... *drum roll* : Pay Per Click wins!
It does mean something very important: They would think more of SEM than SEO. So if they were to communicate about it on the internet, they’d prefer Adwords. This also means that Google and the other Search Engine did great marketing their Paid results and this can only benefit them!
Don’t forget :
It is an American survey so don’t try to use it on any other markets, that could be lethal for your company: I’m obviously thinking about China which is a very different country for search engine since Chinese Internet users mainly search on Baidu as shown in our infographic about Internet in China.
Google introduces new ad placements on Google search allowing ads to appear below search results.
The search company previously enabled advertisers to promote their ads to the top or side of the search results. Now their ads may appear below them. According to Google, this change will offer users a better experience.
For example, if you search "Kittens", below is how you will see the ads displayed by Google AdWords.
Ads appearing to the side of search results
Ads appearing below search results
As users usually scan the search engine results pages (SERPs) from top to bottom, displaying ads in their visualization flow should perform better. The tests that Google ran were actually successful since ads showing below the search results had a higher click-through rate (CTR) than side ads.
Having better CTRs is good for advertisers AND Google. As more people click the ads, it means more revenue for the search company. Google's advertising revenue account for more than 95% of the firm's overall revenue.
This announcement comes after Google revealed a new feature allowing users to understand why they see these ads, as well as after Google recently announced a major update in its search algorithm giving fresher results.
Google Adwords recently unveiled a new feature called “Why these ads?” that explains you why the displayed ads are shown to you on Google search results and Gmail, and gives you the choice to block the ones that you do not want to be displayed anymore.
Google Explains You Why
When you click the link that appears up to the ads, a new window expands to give you more details about the reasons why all the ads were shown to you.
For instance, if I search “Web Design China”, here is the Google results page with the "Why these ads?" links:
If I click one of the links, here is what Google tells me:
Block Google Ads
Google now actually gives you the choice to block ads from specific advertisers or opt out of personalized ads.
When you’re opt-in, you actually see personalized ads, supposed to be more relevant for you, as explained in the below video:
You can change your settings in the Ads Preferences Manager for search and Gmail (you must be signed in with your Google account to access the page).
Impact on SEM
From a SEM point of view, it will be interesting to monitor how this change can impact Adwords performance on your PPC campaigns.
Actually, when users opt out of personalized ads on search and Gmail, advertisers can still reach them but their targeting may be less precise.
However, if users decide to block ads, they will not see the ads anymore. Will this impact your Quality Score and Ad Rank?
Google currently says that whatever the number of blocks you may have, there is no "direct" impact on your Quality Score and Ad Rank.
People often ask me this question – and often when they don’t, they should. When do I advise my clients to use SEM given that ours is obviously an SEO company, specializing in bringing cheaper and thus more profitable traffic to our customers’ websites?
I have tried to include all the cases in which SEM is a better choice than SEO below. Please feel free to add any points I may have missed.
1- Short-term event:
a. You have an event next weekbut you don’t yet have enough visitors/clients. In this case you would surelyconsider using online advertising because SEO is a long-term strategy, not an on/off system you can implement within a few days. In this case, create a landing page and promote it using Google adwords for example.
b. You’ll often use SEM with games too. If you want people to subscribe to your newsletter and organize a game to let them win an iPad or some such gift, you can create an online advertising campaign to promote the game for a few days/weeks
2- Launching e-commerce or awebsite:
a. You have just launched e-commerce, but 24hours later no one has bought anything…Well that’s normal, because no one is visiting your website. It might even not be indexed in search engines yet. Use SEMto bring in your first clients while you beginyourSEO strategy. Use this time to make sure all your processes are working while delivering service tothe first clients.
b. You want to generate leads through your recently launched corporate website? The same strategy applies – use advertising because it’s going to take a little while before your website actually generates natural/organic leads.
3- Extending SEO:
a. You CAN’T target all the keywords with your SEO campaign. So why not target the main queries through SEO while also attracting more traffic through those keywords that you do not necessarily wish to rank for in order not to lose your strength on your main ones. Thus, go for natural optimization for your core keywords and advertising for the others.
4- Increasing traffic beyond what SEO can deliver:
a. You want to double your traffic, triple it or even multiply itby 30. Well, that can be achieved in a few days through SEM – and SEM only. You CAN’T do it magically through SEO (and if you can, don’t tell anyone else how because that little secret is worth a lot of money;).
b. Keep in mind that SEO traffic has a cap (the number of people searching for your website/services/products) while advertising does not – apart from the amount of money you can/are willing to invest in it.
5- Drive traffic to non-optimizable content (Facebook fan page):
a. You want to drive traffic to a page that is not optimized– it might not even be your website. For example, say you want to build a fan page in order to show the world that people trust you. Create a SEM campaign to drive traffic directly to your Facebook, Twitter, Renren or Douban pages.
6- Test keywords’ ROI before targeting them:
a. As you know, SEO is a long-term strategy to increase natural traffic to your website.But which keywords should you focus on? You have carried out proper keyword research but you are not sure which keywords will bring your website the best conversion rates. No problem– test it live with ads and then you will know which keywords you should focus on. It’s a risk-free solution to make sure you choose the right path from the beginning.
7- Target local clients that don’t use local keywords:
a. I see this all the time. Peoplein the US, China, Japan or wherever – they all type “web design company” to search for a firm IN THEIR CITY. They have forgotten that they are not the only people on earth using Google. Google can adapt the search engine response pages to your IP location but this won’t change much. These people are actually looking for your services, so target them through advertising because ads give you the opportunity to choose the location.
b. Example: you sell chocolate in Chengdu. People in Chengdu might type “chocolate shop”. But people in Beijing might also type this too. With advertising you can put your ads in front of people who are actually in Chengdu while avoiding those in Beijing (because you cannot convert them into clients, so why would you spend money onadvertising for them).
8- Balance traffic:
a. This is another approach. You cannot control the number of people who come to your website and actually make a purchase. So if you have a problem, for example if three of your staff membersare absent, you cannot reduce traffic to your website and thusreduce your sales or the demand for support etc. If 30% of your traffic is acquired through online advertising campaigns, you can just turn the advertisingoff to decrease your traffic, reduce the overload and thus also reducethe possibility that your clients will become unhappy because they did not receive good service.
When do you think it’s suitable to buy advertising? Leave your thoughts in the comments box below.
SEO isn’t dead with Google Instant
Contrary to what some people may say, Google Instant isn’t going to kill SEO. What is important to understand is that the feature doesn't impact the ranking of search results.
As you know, Google Instant displays search results as users type their query. Indeed, it guesses what you type in and shows the results for the entire keyword it believes you’re eventually going to enter.
No need to optimize for letter combinations, but...
It basically means that websites don’t need to optimize for letter combinations, because Google Instant isn’t providing search results for letter combinations.
The ones who actually benefit the most of Google Instant feature for the moment are the companies that appear as “default” results. For example, when you type “A”, AOL, Amazon, AIM, and Apple are the runaway leaders in rankings in the US (results vary regionally).
Google Instant to change the way we search
Even though the search results remain the same for a query, there are great chances that users will learn to search differently over time. Indeed, with Google Instant, users can easily find out new areas to explore just by pressing the up/down arrow key. This will inevitably lead to changes for SEO.
For example, an important element that catches their attention is the search result snippet. The more relevant it is, the more likely visitors will click on the site. Therefore, it makes titles even more important from a SEO point of view.
With Instant, users will see more search results, and more ads...
From a SEM point of view, it’s clear that with Google Instant, users will now see many more search results than before. Instead of seeing like 10 results (most people never click through the second page of results), they can now see dozens of results, depending on how many letters they type and how far they get through their query.
At the same time, they will see more ads since those change with the results. However, since most Adwords campaigns are based on cost per click, an increase in impressions doesn’t mean an in increase in costs for advertisers.
Moreover, as Google Instant may make users use more specific keywords for their search queriers instead of general ones, there could be therefore a reduction in clicks towards ads displayed by generic keywords.
Google wants to get more revenue from AdWords
With Instant, Google clearly wants to make search more relevant for users and improve user experience for search and user willingness to click on ads. Why ? To get more revenue of course.
The company hopes that Instant will improve AdWords campaigns performance. And since Google’s revenue model is largely based on AdWords (Google’s main source of revenue), I can bet that Instant will inevitably make Google's revenue go up.
Google AdWords allows advertisers to use trademarked keywords
Under the previous system, brand owners could file a trademark complaint with Google that would ban third-party advertisers from using search trademarked keywords.
However, the European Court of Justice ruled in March that allowing third parties to bid for trademarked keywords was within the bounds of intellectual property law.
The brand owners will still have the right to file complaints with Google which will take the ads down if they agree that the origin of the goods is confusing like in the case of counterfeits.
More relevant results, more revenue
Microsoft-Yahoo! search alliance
Both companies announced last year an agreement stating that search ad inventory from Yahoo!, Microsoft, and their respective partners would be combined into a unified search marketplace, giving advertisers access to an audience of more than 560 million searchers worldwide.
The aim of this agreement is to create a competitive choice in search for advertisers and consumers. However, the Yahoo! and Microsoft search alliance doesn't include each company's display advertising, web properties and products like email, instant messaging, etc.
The Bing-Yahoo! merger is expected to complete in the end of this year for advertisers in the US and Canada, and Yahoo! promised to complete all global advertisers’ transitions by 2012.
Bing to power search
Microsoft will manage the technology platforms that deliver the algorithmic (powered by Bing - by the way see our post about how to optimize your site for Bing) and paid search results (powered by adCenter) while Yahoo! Search Marketing will be shut down. Yahoo! and Microsoft will continue to have differentiated consumer search experiences.
Moreover, both companies will each provide customer support to different advertiser segments: Yahoo!’s sales team will exclusively support large advertisers, SEO and SEM agencies, and resellers and their clients. Microsoft will support self-service advertisers.
Microsoft adCenter will be the platform for all search campaigns.
An alliance reshaping the search industry
In 2008, Yahoo! tried to quit the search market but negotiations to sign a deal with Google came to naught.
The alliance enables Bing’s and Yahoo!’s US search market share to go up to 32% (Bing 13% and Yahoo 19%) compared to Google’s 63% (data by ComScore’s US search market share report of June 2010).
Though, I'm not sure this alliance will be enough to counter Google. The US leading search engine remains wiser and better than its rivals as you can check in our SEO comparison on keywords between Google and Bing and our SEO test about national vs. international domain name extensions.
Google Images new design
Google rolled-out a new design for its image search product Google Images. It consists of a tiled layout with instant scrolling between pages and larger thumbnails.
The new design enables you to scroll up to a thousand images in one page. Larger thumbnail previews on the results page and the hover pane that appears when you mouse over a thumbnail reminds me of Bing's image search, as you can see below:
New "Image Search Ads"
Google has also launched a new type of ad format called “Image Search Ads” that allows advertisers to include text AND thumbnail images in ads, above regular image search results.
Google AdWords will remain incompatible with foreign URLs in the short run according to Google AdWords team.
Google AdWords doesn't support foreign URLs
As you know, only latin characters are currently used in URLs. This restriction doesn't enable any URL to be written in Chinese, Japanese, Russian or Arabic for example.
The situation will change soon after Internet's chief domain name authority ICANN approved International Domain Names (IDNs). It means that websites will be able to have their URL using foreign characters.
For the time being, Google AdWords doesn't support IDNs. For instance, if you want to place an ad for domain names such as 中国.com, your ad will be considered as invalid.
Google AdWords isn't ready to list IDNs
When will Google allow IDNs to be listed in AdWords? The question has been asked to Google AdWords team on their forum. It took them a few months to reply but here is their response: Google Adwords has no plan to support foreign URLs in the "foreseeable future".
They explain that there is currently a very low demand for the ability to advertise on domains using foreign characters. Enabling IDNs avertising would require too many resources compared to the number of potential advertisers.
What's Google waiting for?
In the future, it's clear that online advertising will have to support foreign URLs. There is an inevitable language shift on the web: foreign languages like Chinese are going to be more and more spread over the Internet and URLs. Online advertising platforms would undoubtedly miss some business if they don't allow IDN's ad listing.
That's why Google's response is quite surprising to me. I can understand that Google isn't eager to invest plenty of resources right now in order to allow ad listing for international domain names. However, having no plan at all is something different.