Friday, April 28, 2017
April showers bring May flowers…and we are so ready for the showers to cease. After a gray and gloomy April, punctuated by WordStream Live, holiday weekends and a minor bug infestation on the WordStream marketing corner, May is almost here!
In case you went back into winter hibernation this month and missed our best content, we have a recap for you! Check out our best performing posts of the month.
Allen Finn outlines the most useful Facebook advertising features that you can start using immediately. He covers everything from ad types to targeting and segmentation. Included in the post are some comprehensive graphics and instructions!
Based on one of our most popular webinars by Allen Finn and Brett McHale, the slides were turned into this (just as popular) blog post! It outlines the best ways to nurture your prospects—and we’re not just talking about email here, people. Plot twist: paid search can be one of the best ways to push your prospects through the funny and get more customers.
Ever get the feeling that your SEO work just isn't paying off? It might be because the click-through rate for some of your #1 organic rankings just isn't what it used to be.
Everyone has done it; bought that purse because it was one of the “only a few left!” when you put it in your cart, or the limited-edition shoes. Brad Smith outlines the best urgency-inducing hacks he’s seen that are guaranteed to drive sales for your company.
‘Tis the season for some Google changes! Allen uses this data-backed post (thanks to our data analyst, Josh) to outline how the most recent exact match changes will affect your account, and how to remedy the impact.
As those on my team can attest, content marketing is important! It’s a reliable way to drive traffic and increase brand awareness—but some people can’t help but talk smack on content. In this post, Dan Shewan lists some impactful facts to throw back in the face of naysayers.
Despite our previously-thrown shade at LinkedIn ads (or maybe because of it), LinkedIn has introduced lead generation forms. Allen rescinds some of his previous criticism to outline what you need to know about the new form and how it measures up to Facebook lead ads.
As demand for remote work grows, we thought it would be helpful to outline some great ways to find a remote job—and give some tips on how to make it work. This listicle contains companies that work remotely, sites to find remote jobs, and our best productivity advice.
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’re probably on Instagram, have seen Instagram posts, or are actively avoiding the platform. As it continues to strive for world dominance, I compiled a list of statistics and facts to tickle your fancy—and possibly convince you to get an account.
We like to make sure that you’re on top of all new Google happenings—which is why our brilliant data scientist, Mark, outlines a new feature that is now in beta—similar audiences for search. A thinly veiled copycat of similar audiences for the display network or Facebook’s lookalike audiences, this tool could be a powerful way to reach your prospects and customers.
from Wordstream Blog Feed http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2017/04/28/best-of-april
Evaluating link quality, Google Combats Fake News & Seismic Shift In Top Companies – Weekly Forum Update
This week members asked tough questions about how to evaluate the quality of your links.
Google released features to help combat fake news and what this may mean for SEOs
Members also discussed to what degree Alphabet, Googles parent company, is a monopoly and how 5 out of the 10 biggest companies are now Internet or computer companies.
Over on Webmasterworld, GoodROI asked about qualifying link opportunities with directory submissions and pagerank being long dead – this is something that many of us in the SEO world have wrestle with. Members joined in with a variety of interesting tactics.
Jestermagic recommended a content marketing approach but caveated it with that it works best for already established sites:
“For the most part I don’t do much to chase down links. What I do is provide useful content that sometimes gets linked to by major media outlets (and others). This approach works for a well establish site that is over a decade old.
It doesn’t work for newer sites that I have which don’t have the backlinks.”
EditoralGuy chimed in about leveraging online PR for link acquisition
“I suspect that public relations is more effective than trolling for links, assuming that you have the type of content that people want to cite as additional resources for whatever they’re writing about.”
On this front, Iamlost included thoughts on his homegrown onlinePR approach
“I also did outreach to niche journalists, initially local (in a great many localities but individually local) whenever there was a news story I could piggyback on. Journalists collect resources, I collect journalists.”
Iamlost also mentioned leveraging third parties to host content, link, and send referral traffic
“I only place 10-15% of slideshows and videos on third parties, i.e. SlideShare, YouTube.”
This question from Halaspike, is definitely one many of us ask ourselves when trying to correlate our linkbuilding efforts to our traffic!
Keyplyr mentions the domain authority factor that can be affected by the links you’re getting
“Backlink juice is a page-by-page type of thing, but if the link if from an authoritative source, there *could* be a Trust factor benefit applied to the site.
On the down side, if the link is from a bad-neighborhood, there *could* be a negative impact to the site.”
Buckworks comments that its theoretically possible but don’t hold your breath
“It can’t be assumed that a link from “a very high quality website” will automatically confer a lot of SEO benefits. There will be some, of course, but the effects might vary a lot depending on what page the link is on. Even on an authoritative site, not every page is a strong page, SEO-wise, so not every link will be a strong one.”
Both Google and Facebook are racing to figure out how to combat offensive and false in the midst of recent criticisms. Engine comments that many of the items mentioned are things that are already known in the SEO community, such as domain authority but Google will begin adding flags to featured rich snippets and user feedback mechanisms for autocomplete and featured rich snippets.
It will be interesting to watch how these changes affect opinion pieces and new publishers, as well as how Google will combat adversarial attempts to manipulate new feedback mechanisms.
As measuring the value of acquired links has become increasingly challenging in recent years, member wygk looks for an alternative. Members state that there is no great alternative but suggest several subscription-based alternatives to provide some rough guidance, including Majestic Flowmetrics and Moz Domain Authority.
from Internet Marketing Ninjas Blog https://www.internetmarketingninjas.com/blog/sem-industry/evaluating-link-quality-google-combats-fake-news-seismic-shift-top-companies-weekly-forum-update/
Thursday, April 27, 2017
If you enter into Facebook advertising with the mindset that it’s a self-driving car and you can take a nap in the backseat covered in Cheetos while it delivers you exactly where you want to be…you’re terribly mistaken.
Unfortunately for the couch potato marketers of the world, if you want six-pack abs, you’re going to have to put in a little bit more work than that one day at the gym every three weeks that you swiftly chase with 64 Michelob Ultras and 12 hours on Netflix.
The problem with competing in Facebook advertising is the overwhelming level of sophistication and complexity. Like most important things in life, knowledge is key, and not just the poor advice of amateurs and gurus (not mutually exclusive).
In this post I’ll outline everything you need to know about competitive bidding, budgeting, and creative strategy in Facebook ads. I will also explain how the Facebook ad auction works and how to leverage this knowledge to compete at the highest level possible.
How the Facebook Ad Auction Works
Facebook’s auction is similar to that of Google AdWords, where value is created for advertisers by giving them the capabilities to reach target audiences and drive results.
The caveat is that the “value” derived for the advertiser must also create a relevant and positive experience for the end user. The Facebook auction is designed to balance these principles and reward the advertiser who does both the best. In a regular auction, the winner is the one with the highest bid. This is not the case with Facebook advertising.
To clarify: Every time an ad is created in Facebook and set live against a target audience, you are entering the Facebook Auction. You enter this auction with the bid that you specify within your ad set:
After choosing how your ads will enter the auction, you have two options for bidding: an automatic bid or a manual bid.
In this bidding option, Facebook places an automatic bid within each auction. The bid is calculated to spend the entirety of your specified budget while accumulating the most results for your ad. Facebook wants their users to trust the platform to achieve the most results for the best possible price. If you are still trying to gauge an “average” cost per conversion on Facebook, this may be a better option for you. However, to truly be competitive with your bidding and to ensure that you reach that next-level of quality user, manual bidding is the way to go.
As with many aspects of online advertising (and life), you can put faith into a platform that is inherently designed to take your money to make decisions for you…or you can take control of the vehicle and get to where you want to be without all of the fluff.
Manual bidding allows you to have strategic control over the delivery of your ads and could lead to better results for a lower cost than automatic bidding. The method for manual bid is slightly different depending on how you choose to optimize your delivery:
It’s more advantageous to optimize ad delivery for the result you are looking for. Facebook’s delivery system and auction optimize for the desired action within each campaign objective. For example, when optimizing for conversions, Facebook looks for individuals within the audience who are most likely to convert or commit the specified action. The only time I would suggest using the other delivery methods would be if you have a smaller audience and confidence that the audience would convert or commit the action you want.
When you are manually bidding for actions like conversions or clicks, you have two options, maximum or average:
Maximum bid allows you to set the absolute limit you are willing to pay for a result, while Average takes your bid and is able to enter the auction with the flexibility of leveraging your specified bid amount as a median, not a ceiling. Average bidding allows for greater flexibility when entering the Facebook auction due to the ability to bid slightly higher than you would with a maximum bid in order to reach “higher quality” users.
Facebook Ad Quality and Relevance
Another element of the auction is your Relevance Score, which takes into consideration the “quality” and relevance of your ad.
These factors are based on how your audience reacts to your ad. For example, if your ad receives negative feedback, that can decrease its total value. If a user is historically interested in what you’re advertising or reacts positively to your ads, those actions can increase the value of an ad. Positive feedback increases your Facebook Relevance Score.
The Truth About Relevance Score
Relevance Score estimates how well your ad is resonating with a specific audience it is being served to. The concept is unsurprisingly similar to that of Google’s Quality Score and can be equally beneficial while many times just as misleading.
Relevance score essentially gives you the ability to receive a discount within the Facebook ad auction while simultaneously extending your reach within that audience. The ability to maintain a high Relevance Score can be a crucial competitive advantage when it comes to clicks, visibility, brand awareness, brand engagement, and very top-funnel marketing metrics.
While all of these things are important to running a successful business, Relevance Score does not give you a full picture. If your goal is driving conversions, purchases, or any other form of direct response, judging your Facebook ad’s performance based on its Relevance Score would be like judging a bald eagle on how fast it can run.
You can also think of Relevance Score in terms of music. Pop music produces the equivalent of a high Relevance Score, because a large volume of people, many of which have a fleeting interest in what they are listening to, are being marketed to in the broadest way possible and receiving an overall positive experience. Alternatively, you could have the smaller niche audience who are far more invested in what they are consuming (like a cult following), and your unit of measurement in regards to success is entirely different.
Relevance Score can be an extremely effective metric to focus on when it comes to particular advertising goals, it’s just not the gold standard it is often made out to be.
Estimated Action Rates
An “estimated action rate” is a measure of how likely a person is to take the actions required to get you the result you have optimized for. For example, if you are running an ad for workout equipment that’s optimized for purchase conversions, you would most likely be targeting people interested in fitness.
However, just because someone’s interests are relevant to the ad, it doesn’t necessarily mean they are going to purchase the equipment. That’s why Facebook factors in “estimated action” rates. From the individuals within your audience, Facebook tries to find those who are most likely to commit the action you are looking for. The algorithm will essentially target people who are in the market to buy workout equipment, thus reaffirming why you should bid based on your desired result.
Strategically Using Bids, Budgets, and Creative to WIN on Facebook
Understanding how the ad auction works is the first step to competing in Facebook. The second is understanding how to strategically manipulate this knowledge to your own benefit. The relationship between your budget, bids, and use of creative is the key to victory assuming all other factors (i.e. targeting) are done sufficiently.
Facebook Budget and Bids
Creative aside, there is a direct correlation between your budget and your bid that will have a profound impact on your delivery and overall success. Whether you set a daily or lifetime budget, Facebook’s goal is to spend all of it. When you have an ad set that is NOT on track to spend its full budget (under-delivering) it is ultimately treated differently than if it was. Let’s look at the difference:
According to Facebook:
The clear codependence between bid and budget in order to maximize an ad set’s delivery is the key takeaway here.
Let’s use the example of driving leads through a website conversions campaign: Your target cost per lead is $20 and you are using a website offer to drive these conversions. You have $5,000 in total budget to spend and you’ve come to the crossroads – daily or lifetime budget? If you specify a daily budget, you essentially are telling Facebook to spend “X” amount within 24 hours. There is no way to day-part with daily budgets either, so if your decision is to use daily budgets to exhibit more control over an ad set’s spend day-to-day, you should keep in mind that your ads will be showing up around the clock regardless of any geographical mixture of targeting you could be bidding for.
Lifetime budgets on the other hand allow you to select a schedule for which to show your ads to the selected audiences. Dayparting aside there is another element to the equation that I believe is the core reason to choose lifetime over daily. When you increase your budget in an ad set it is likely that your average cost per result may increase as well. How does this happen?
If you increase your budget you have to win more auctions for Facebook to spend it. As I said before, Facebook is in this to spend all of the money you tell it to. Due to the reality that there is a finite number of auctions with the same cost per result that you may have been getting, as you increase your budget, you have to go for increasingly higher cost results.
Let’s say you have a $20 budget and a $10 bid – Facebook will lower your bid to make the most out of the small budget. If the bid is lowered to $4, you could win all of the $4 auctions and ultimately receive an average cost of $4. Conversely, if you raised your budget to $200, it’s not likely that the number of $4 auctions exist even if you won them all. It would be very unlikely that you would even come close to spending that $200 budget. Therefore you have to enter into auctions with more expensive results in order to spend the specified amount.
With this knowledge in hand, if you have a daily budget, you will enter as many auctions as your bid allows in order to reach your budget. With a Lifetime budget, however, you are allowing Facebook’s algorithm to factor in another element into the equation – pacing. If you have a lifetime budget of $5,000 vs. a daily budget of $1,000 (that you intend to run for 5 days) – the fundamental difference is you could actually tell the lifetime campaign that you are going to spend $10,000 within the same timeframe, with the intent of spending the original amount.
Be warned - if you are NOT careful or don’t monitor the progress of your ads, you could easily overspend. This tactic should be used ONLY if you are comfortable with the risks involved.
With that being said, let me explain further: In the past I have had the total budget at $1,000 but given Facebook the lifetime budget of $5,000. Within this Ad Set, I had specified what times during the day I would want my ads to be shown. Now comes the important part, the bid:
I took the “suggested bid” per result of this audience and increased it exponentially. My reason being is that I’m attempting to optimize for the conversions that I specified, which are “Content Downloads.” It’s highly unlikely that I will ever pay $150 for an individual to download our content. I do know however, how much others are willing to pay for conversions “on average.”
Facebook’s algorithm is really good but it’s no psychic and I’m well aware that the experience of visiting the landing page, the emotional appeal of the copy, and ease of committing this action are not factored into my suggested bid. My point is that you should get to a place with your creative and offer where you are extremely confident that you can outperform your competition in the auction.
Other advertisers are bidding “$22.19 - $43.61” dollars for conversions, but those “conversions” and experiences for users could vary incredibly. As I mentioned earlier, Facebook will bid lower to get you the most results within your budget. If I specify that I am willing to spend $150 per result, I am bidding with other individuals who have the potential target CPA’s of that amount.
Facebook’s algorithm is taking my $150 bid per result, my $5,000 (specified) budget, the time period within 24-hours that I intend to show my ads, and deciding on how to serve them most effectively within these parameters. What Facebook doesn’t know is that I have no intention to spend $5,000 dollars on the campaign and I’m not going to pay $150 per result....but I could...if I wanted to.
Instead, my carefully chosen, well designed, and high-converting offer was shown to an audience of individuals who not only had relevant interests and behaviors but who also had needs that the value proposition of that offer was relevant to. I was able to drive 280 content downloads and spend $985 before I paused the ad set. My final CPA was only $3.52 per content download. Facebook took my bid and budget with the specified time frame and served the ads in a way that allowed me to win the majority of the “low hanging fruit” bids within that audience for the desired cost. However, my campaign did not run the entire duration and my offer was good enough for the audience to convert at a rate so that I did not spend $150 per result.
When you have a bid and total budget, the algorithm will figure you will spend $5,000 with $150 per result (at least 33 results). When you out-perform these expectations, Facebook believes it's driving more results than you anticipated and will try to maximize these results for a period of time. This is a fairly advanced strategy, but I believe it's an important lesson to showcase how all of the elements that go into the Facebook ad auction play a role in the end result.
Now you probably don’t have the bandwidth for all of these tactics, especially if you’re using Facebook ads as a small business, so I’ll list out the core things you absolutely can do in order to compete in Facebook
TL;DR: How to Compete In Facebook Road Map
Optimize for the results you are looking for: If your goal is to drive conversions on your website, make that your goal. It will further increase your chances of success.
Choose a lifetime budget that works for you: You don’t have to do anything “hacky” with your budget the way I did. If you know what your budget is and the amount of time you want it to spend, you can make it that and still be competitive.
Know Your Promotion: Know what you have to offer and who will want it. Focus on the value proposition, creative, and copy to truly gain a competitive advantage.
Bid and budget Intelligently: Leverage what you know about the Facebook auction to bid competitively within your budget.
Creative Competitive Advantage
Aside from the vast technical capabilities it offers, what makes Facebook one of the greatest platforms for marketers today is its ability to reward quality advertising. You could know everything I have talked about in this post but if you do not know how to creatively connect with your audience, you’re going to struggle and you’re going to pay more.
If you’re going to spend money on marketing, no matter what the channel, you need to create value in order for that investment to be worthwhile. The beauty of paid channels like Facebook ads and Google AdWords is that if you have the right strategy and capability to play the game well, you can compete with almost any budget.
from Wordstream Blog Feed http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2017/04/27/how-to-compete-in-facebook-ads
Wednesday, April 26, 2017
SEO is among one of the biggest concerns for anyone who is running an online business or website. While there are plenty of marketing techniques that are important, particularly content and social, search ranking is still a crucial element to netting yourself a strong audience. After all, not everyone is going to come across your social media account or blog, but a few targeted keywords could bring them straight to your Google result.
If you want to strengthen your search engine clout, the best thing you can do is get an arsenal of tools and begin building your strategy. Here are a few free tools from SEOchat.com to add to your arsenal!
Your site shouldn’t just be optimized for search engines, it needs to be user friendly and speedy. A slow site never ranks as highly once the crawlers get to them. Do you know how fast your own website really is? This tool is quick and easy to use. Just put in your URL, and it will do a complete speed analysis.
Try this: You can select to run the analysis for one page or for two pages (!) Page speed comparison works great for better understanding the issues!
- Check this collection of resources to finally understand site speed better
- Bookmark this indepth guide on speeding up a WordPress site
- Read about Google’s efforts to make web faster
Google /Bing / Youtube / Amazon Suggest tool is an obvious must for anyone who wants to expand their keyword strategy and get insight into what people are searching in your niche. It will give you plenty of keyword data to work with. This is one of the most useful tools to use if you want to properly optimize your site and brainstorm.
Try this: Select base phrases that look good for you (based on content type and user intent you are targeting) and go to step 2 where you’ll see an even more extended data for each selected key phrase. Target more specific keyword sets to rank easier!
Related helpful tools to try:
- Suggestion Keyword Finder: This one works with Google Suggest and lets you dig even deeper to get the list of longer phrases.
- Keyword Density with Options: Get an idea of most frequently on-page words and phrases to generate your own list of suggestions
This is a great tool that gives complete SEO data. It spiders website links and images, and organizes all information so you can quickly and easily tab through it, searching by common issues and other filters. You can see a quick summary of their error reports.
It’s free and web-based (no need to download anything) and surprisingly fast! Use it to diagnose various issues (from duplicate title tags to broken images and links).
Try this: I use it a lot as a broken link checker. Having a broken link can cause serious issues for you. Not only does it limit traffic and look unprofessional, but it can cause your website to lose ranking position. Your entire reputation can begin to plummet. You can get an emailed copy of that report for your records or later use.
Related helpful tools to try:
- External Link Crawler and Title Tag Extractor Tool: Find who you are linking to and which anchor text you are using (and if any of those links are broken)
- Title Tag and Meta Description Data for Multiple URLs (free tool): Copy-paste multiple URLs here and get the meta tag for each URL on the list!
Give your page a quick SEO checkup and find some most glaring issues. All fixes will be presented as important or semi-important fixes to be made, with a list of everything that passed the check.
Try this: You can choose to improve your score by running through each suggested change and improving the SEO on your page as a whole, bit by bit.
Related helpful tools to try:
Provide your major keyword, put your (or your competitor’s domain name) and see how it ranks in the chose search engine results. Furthermore, see how the two SERPs are different.
Try this: This is a great reputation management tool! Run a search for your brand name and see how well your brand SERPs are controlled by your owned / controlled / approved media!
We are dealing with the overwhelming amount of link lists nowadays: Exports from all kinds of backlink tracking tools with variations of the same URLs to clean up. Don’t get me started on sitewide links that all come as hundreds of different URLs in your backlink reports. This tool is there for the rescue…
Filter your link lists by domain keeping the longest / shortest ones, filter links to keep only unique ones (regardless of domain) and much more!
Try this: Use a document import feature to merge and then sort out multiple lists from different sources!
Don’t let your SEO suffer. Use these ten tools to get your website properly optimized, and start climbing the ranking ladder.
Have any additional tools to share? Let us know in the comments!
from Internet Marketing Ninjas Blog https://www.internetmarketingninjas.com/blog/seo-tools/guide-to-the-top-seo-tools/
SEO is hard, y’all.
It can take a while to start working, and then, once you get used to seeing double-digit growth in organic traffic year over year – suddenly you hit the dreaded plateau. It’s harder and harder to make serious gains.
WordStream's traffic growth since 2009
See how the slope of growth is less steep toward the end?
I remember the days where there were lots of spammy tricks you could use to get mediocre content to rank. (Not that I myself would ever create mediocre content. Nope. No way.) That’s not so easy anymore – in part because Google’s algorithms have gotten a lot smarter, and in part because the competition is simply greater. There are more sites and businesses, but the first page of results hasn’t gotten bigger. Not that it would matter if it did – few people scroll to the bottom or click to page 2.
Recently, doing my SEO reporting, I’ve noticed a few cases where a page on our site has seen a dip in organic traffic. However, when I check to see if we’ve lost our ranking, we’re still on the first page, or even ranking at #1. So what gives?
I suspected that changes to the Google SERP, such as the introduction of fancy new SERP features, were lowering our organic click-through rate (CTR), so I did a little digging to find out what exactly was going on.
A note on study methodology
For this study, we looked at 24 keywords (from our own site) where we’ve maintained the same or very close to the same ranking for about two years (between May 2015 and April 2017) according to Search Console data. In most cases the keyword maintained a #1 ranking, but for some keywords the average ranking for the period is reported as 1.1 or 1.2 due to some ranking flux. Results were not filtered by device or country.
I would characterize the majority of these keywords as informational. Only one of them is clearly commercial (“ppc software”) and one is potentially branded or navigational (“free keyword tool” is ambiguous, since it’s both the name of our tool and a generic phrase). More on what these keyword categories mean here.
And thanks to my smarty-pants colleagues Meg Lister and Josh Brackett, who are approximately 9 million times better at Excel and statistics than me, for helping me analyze this data, and to our new designer Kate Lindsay for pretty-ing up the graphs.
The upshot: Median CTR is down by 37%
Looking at all 24 queries on our list, we had an average position change of -0.1% (not significant) and an average CTR change of -28% (a median change of -37%).
CTR only went up for three keywords in the set (by 3%, 4%, and 37%). For all the others, CTR went down. The biggest single change was a drop in CTR of -79%.
It’s important to note that I didn’t cherry-pick keywords to fit a narrative. These were the first 24 keywords I found where our ranking hadn’t changed significantly in two years.
How has organic impression volume changed?
Impressions for this keyword set were up overall (by a hefty 63%) – however, due to the fall in CTR, we weren’t able to capitalize on most of those impressions to drive growth. Clicks only increased by 21% in the same time period.
How do Featured Snippets affect CTR?
Of the 24 keywords, there were 17 queries where we own the featured snippet. For these keywords there was an average position change of 0% and a median CTR change of -39%. That means even with the coveted Featured Snippet, organic CTR for a #1 ranking is lower in 2017 than it was in 2015.
And it’s not because we’re competing with more ads – 16 of these keywords have no ads on the SERP at all.
For keywords without a featured snippet (6 of the 24), median CTR change was only -32%. This suggests that the featured snippet is actually associated with a decrease in CTR(?!)
This would make sense for simple question-type keywords that can be answered right on the SERP, like “how tall was Abraham Lincoln,” “when is the Super Bowl” etc. See also the recent kerfuffle over Celebrity Net Worth – a website that has taken a major hit due to Google’s Featured Snippets making it largely unnecessary to click through to discover what a celebrity is worth.
This is why I think it’s so important to answer COMPLEX questions if you want to drive value from Featured Snippets.
But most of the keywords I looked at weren’t simple questions, or phrased as questions at all. So there’s actually no reason to assume that people were looking for a quick answer. For example, two of the keywords were “great marketing ideas” and “keyword strategy.” To me it’s pretty clear that the intent with these is relatively deep; they’re looking for multiple ideas or a complex strategy, not just a definition.
So why has organic CTR for a #1 ranking fallen?
Here’s the tricky part: Why is this happening? It’s not immediately obvious.
Are we losing clicks to ads?
It would be easy to assume that organic CTR has fallen because Google has increasingly moved to monetize the SERP – for example, just last year Google increased the number of top ads from three to four (while simultaneously removing the right-rail ads).
Old enough to remember when there were ads there
However, that change has minimal impact on this keyword set, since only four of the 24 keywords we looked at were triggering ads at all, and of those four, only one triggered four top ads. Two of the keywords triggered just one top ad, and one triggered no top ad but a panel of sponsored results on the right (on desktop).
Incidentally, the keyword that now triggers four ads showed exactly the median drop in CTR (-32%). It wasn’t an outlier in terms of losing clicks to ads.
Long story short, ads are definitely not the whole story here.
What about other SERP features?
There were a few cases where the keyword triggered a Featured Snippet but the Featured Snippet wasn’t ours (even though we had the #1 ranking). The Featured Snippet was introduced in 2015 and the prevalence of the feature increased a few times during 2016 (thanks to Dr. Pete for confirming). According to current MozCast data, it now appears on about 15% of queries.
10 of the keywords also triggered a “People also ask” feature (Related Questions), like the below.
In a different industry, we might have seen a lot more features in the results – images, videos, knowledge panel, local packs, card-style carousels at the top, etc. That wasn’t the case in this particular keyword set.
Now, Moz recently published some fascinating data (in collaboration with Jumpshot) that reveals a full third of searches result in no clicks at all. People do a Google search and then click nothing. Says Rand Fishkin:
If we look at all search queries (not just distinct ones), those numbers shift to a straight 60%/40% split. I wouldn't be surprised to find that over time, we get closer and closer to Google solving half of search queries without a click.
In other words, Rand predicts that CTR will continue to fall even for #1 rankings as Google releases features that make clicking any result unnecessary.
Is this a mobile problem?
One possibility for the drop in CTR is that a greater percentage of our site traffic is mobile now than it was 2 years ago – mobile devices account for about 20% of traffic now, compared to 13% in May 2015.
Here’s the May 2015 breakdown:
And here’s March 2017:
(As mentioned, I didn’t break the above click-through rate data out by device; I download reports from Search Console monthly, but not device reports, and at this point I can’t go back and get that data from 2015.)
On mobile, organic CTR looks a little different than it does on desktop. Again, according to Moz/Jumpshot data, organic CTR is lower on mobile devices than on desktop – Rand says:
We've always suspected CTR on mobile is lower than on desktop, and now it's confirmed. For mobile devices, 40.9% of Google searches result in an organic click, 2% in a paid click, and 57.1% in no click at all. For desktop devices, 62.2% of Google searches result in an organic click, 2.8% in a paid click, and 35% in no click.
So well more than half of mobile searches don’t result in clicks.
Here’s another source – according to Advanced Web Ranking, “ranking #1 in Google has a 23.5% mobile click-through rate, down from 28.6% in 2015.”
That means it’s not just the increase in mobile search share, but that CTR’s are falling across all devices.
None of these explanations (more and larger ads, other organic features, or shifts in mobile usage/behavior) fully explain the dip in organic CTR that we’re seeing, but it could be a combination of these changes along with other, smaller factors. Heck, maybe people are just more distracted than they were two years ago, so we’re seeing a higher incidence of people doing a Google search and then dropping the task to watch a squirrel out the window…
One more caveat…
This was our own, wordstream.com account data so we’re only looking at one vertical: marketing. The results may be very different for different industries. I can actually imagine the average CTR falling much more for industries that do less content marketing than we do, meaning more of their keywords are going to be commercial vs. informational.
How to combat falling organic CTR’s?
Feeling dispirited? Me too, honestly, but your focus shouldn’t change too much:
- Keep working to increase your organic CTR’s by aiming to meet the searcher’s true intent with exceptionally high-quality content, and by writing headlines and meta descriptions that make the value you’re offering crystal-clear upfront.
- Scale your content marketing so you have more opportunities to rank. Consider publishing more off-topic content that reaches a wider audience and increases your brand affinity (then use remarketing to convert more of those visitors).
- Invest in social promotion, email marketing, PPC and other channels that can offset any losses on the organic SERP.
In short, though our data set was limited:
- This study suggests that a #1 ranking on Google is 37% less valuable, at least in terms of click-through rate, than it was just two years ago. That means you can't take full advantage of gains in impressions.
- Featured Snippets are associated with a bigger decrease in CTR than SERPs without a Featured Snippet – even just looking at keywords where we own the Feature Snippet. Statistical significance on this data point is 99%.
We were surprised, to say the least.
What do you think? Have you seen similar changes in your industry?
from Wordstream Blog Feed http://www.wordstream.com/blog/ws/2017/04/26/google-ranking-click-through-rate