The Search Engine Results Page and User Behaviour

There is analogy I’d like to illustrate here with the help of the idea of ergonomics.

Literally translated from Greek as work laws, in the sense of the rules of interaction, ergonomics serves us to better understand how people interface with their physical surroundings. In words of the layman things have to be designed so that they look like what their function is. The rubberized plastic on a bread knife’s handle, coupled with the evenly spaced indentations clearly signal that it meant to be picked up and held firmly. Icons and buttons on a smartphone’s monitor are intentionally made to look like physical buttons you may find on another electronic device, like a remote control. Smartphones that gently vibrate after these virtual buttons are tapped is a hap-tic feedback that replaces the natural sense of touch had it been an actual button being pressed.

So ergonomics help us better design the world around us so that we interact more intuitively. This deduction of course stresses that the message of usability is communicated before the interaction starts.

So far though the given examples have been limited to physical objects. Can this principle be applied elsewhere more abstract? Perhaps Pay Per Click?

Let’s examine the typical Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Using Google as the search engine of choice one can enter practically any topical query and get results in the following layout: Up to three detailed PPC ads above organic search results with perhaps some more on the right. There may be some additional content helpfully provided, such as a Google maps insert or a list of related businesses with their contact details, but the basic layout stays the same.

It would be tremendously useful to have data on how people process SERPs. We could then apply the principle of ergonomics to our ads. That is if we know how people interface with AdWords then they can be designed in a manner that anticipates being read or ‘used’ for optimal comfort and engagement.

Luckily we do have something and it is called eye-tracking heat maps, which is data that shows what parts of a page receives the most attention. A number of studies and experiments have been performed on SERPs since it has gained prominence in the 2000’s using this technology. Some useful conclusions have been made. One of these is called the Golden Triangle and it is of vital importance to PPC.

When a user is presented with a SERP they examine the first result in its entirety so as to deduce the nature of both that particular result and to some extent all others. The second result also receives attention but less critically than the first, with the user often trailing off by the end of it. The third result garners less attention still. The Golden Triangle shape, or tilted pyramid if you prefer, illustrates this diminishing attention span. For the rest of the results the user alters their behavior to a pattern called the F-shape. While the most prominent results enjoyed user engagement latter results within the tail of the ‘F’ are surveyed quickly.

There are two types of reading techniques that are employed automatically by users looking for particular information, namely skimming and scanning. Skimming is orientated around themes and scanning is only focused on key words. We can deduce that skimming is employed for the top few results, when the theme of the SERP is still unknown, and scanning used for the rest.

What does this mean for PPC?

For one, if you are luckily enough get top of page rankings for your ad, or just bold enough to bid aggressively for that position, then the content of your ad has more leeway to be descriptive instead of being terse. On the other hand lesser ranked ads should forgo unnecessary details that would likely be ignored out of hand.

Google AdWords offers a number of ad extension options which when used increases the amount of content displayed to users, but only if that ad is displayed in one of the prominent positions. This is helpful because we already know that more content is readily consumed at the top of the page without one necessarily having to change the ad text itself.

Highlighted keywords gain more importance with lower ranked ads, which help your ad being noticed instead of passed over.

Even without the statistics and data on user behavior on SERPs there remains a bottom line on usability that is a core tenet of ergonomics. Design your ads so that you yourself would be compelled to click on them.

Why Quality Link Building Is Essential For SEO

There are various ways to improve the SEO ranking of a site. Of them, one of the most popular is the link building strategy. Link Building can go a long way in helping a website establish a strong online presence and get discovered on the web. Make sure you don’t fall prey to the shady linking building techniques. The way SEO works have evolved a lot since its inception. It wouldn’t be wrong to say that link earning rather than link building is the future of SEO. In order to earn links, you have to develop unique and engaging content which other good, reputable and relevant sites would want to link to. But, until your site reaches that stage here is what you can do. First analyze your backlink profile and make sure it is as per Google penguin guidelines. If you find there are any shady backlinks then disavow them using a disavow tool.

Here are some tips that will help you in building quality links for your site.

  • It is very important that the backlinks to your site are from genuine, trusted sites. You can make use of social media platforms like Facebook, Twitter, etc., to generate good quality back links.
  • It is also important to have good anchor text diversity. For a backlink portfolio to be good, it should contain a variety of different link types, such as generic links, brand links, links with exact match keywords, etc.
  • Guest blogging on similar sites is also a good way to earn links. You can also promote your site on YouTube, etc.
  • Try to link your own old posts to new posts. This strategy makes use of linking your content internally to gain backlinks.
  • Find out if there are any broken URLs. Fix them as soon as possible. This technique is called link reclamation and is one of the oldest ways of building quality links.

So, start building a good backlink profile for your start and take it to new heights on the web.

What SEO Can Do For Your Website?

Internet has made a huge impact on our lives. It has changed the way we shop, look for things, find products and services, etc. Businesses today also understand the importance of Internet and hence, they look for ways to promote their business online. But, for a site to be successful in the web world, it has to resort to Search Engine Optimization. It is the way that will make your site more reachable to humans and more accessible to search engine robots.

It has been said time and again that SEO is not a cost but an investment. Well, that’s the truth. The money spent on SEO will very likely give you good returns in the time to come. Research shows that 75% of the people never scroll past the first ten search engine results. So, you can imagine the kind of organic traffic your site is missing if it is not making it there. By investing in the SEO services of a reputable company, your site can enjoy more visibility on the Internet. Research also reveals that those businesses that rank well on search engines are perceived as business leaders and hence most people tend to buy their products or make use of their services. So, if you have not been giving SEO its due importance, maybe it is time that you did. It will go a long way in increasing the brand awareness and will help you in reaching out to a larger potential audience.

The thing about SEO is that you cannot implement it once and for all. It is a continuous process. Search engine giants keep updating their algorithms to keep spam sites out of the search engine results. So, if you want to have good SERPs (Search Engine Rankings) consistently, you have to keep yourself updated with the latest trends and innovations in the SEO sector. The best thing to do is to hire the services of a reputed SEO service provider. By properly implementing the SEO techniques and strategies, you can help your site reach new heights.

Things To Remember When Designing Your Website

So, finally you have made up your mind. After spending a lot of time researching and discussing you have come to the conclusion that its time your business had its own site. Without a doubt it is a great idea but don’t think that all you have to do is a hire a good website designer. Sure, you will need a website designer but, there are certain things you have to ponder over and be clear about it if you want your site to succeed. Here are our top pointers to consider when designing your website.

  • Know who your target audience is and how you will be serving them?
  • What is the purpose of your website? Is it for information or to generate sales, etc.?
  • Will the site reflect your organisation in all aspects?
  • How are your competitors sites designed? What do you think of them?
  • What is the cost involved in designing and launching the site? Who will manage and maintain it?
  • Will the site be scalable keeping in mind that there might be a need of future expansion?

We understand that you might feel that there are too many things to consider. But, remember your website launch is no small thing either. So, it is better to be well prepared and to leap into it with all the necessary information. Among other things also consider the aesthetic aspect of web designing; make sure that you website looks pleasing on the eye. Use colours that are not too bright, use readable fonts, make your site easy to navigate, etc. Also don’t try to put in too much of everything – keep it clutter free. Do add an ‘about us’ and a ‘contact us’ page.

Web designing is a very crucial for the success of your site. But, if you give enough thought to the pointers listed above you should be able to come up with a fabulous web designing concept that will give you a winning edge over your competitors.

The need of Local Business is Local SEO

Local Businesses must make use of local SEO to leverage their business online. If you are a local business owner and have recently launched your new business site, but are not seeing any visitors coming to your site then surely something you are not doing isn’t right. The very obvious reason could be that search engines are not aware that your business exists and hence they have not crawled (found) your site yet. But, don’t worry as there is a solution for every problem. You have to boost your site performance by making use of Local Search Engine Optimization.

There was a time when people flipped through the pages of yellow pages to find out about the products and services they needed. But, today they search about such things on the internet. Offline marketing techniques like ads in the daily newspaper, word of mouth publicity, etc., have their own place in a marketing strategy but their share is increasingly becoming small. Local search engine experts will help you get your business listed in the various online directories like Insider pages, yelp, Craigslist, etc. You can also get it listed in Google services like Google Places. When listing your company in these directories make sure that you provide the details correctly. Any mistakes here and it will cost you a number of customers.

Other than this one should also make use of the social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter to reach out to a larger relevant audience. If you are not sure about how to promote your business online locally, hire the services of a local SEO company. A locally search engine optimized site can take your local business to new heights by bringing you a lot of new customers and enhancing your local reach.

Some Basic Ways to Boost SERPs

The traffic a website gets from search engines plays a major role in its success. It is a great contributor in its development and growth.  But there has to be some wise planning and effort to attain good search engine ranking. Here are a few basic ways that can go a long way in consolidating and boosting SERPs.

  1. Research Keywords and choose them wisely:

Keywords play a very vital role in determining the SERPs for a website. Those who have more effective keywords eventually gains better SERPs. So, the next question now is how to choose effective keywords. You can make use of keywords research tool from Google. All you have to do is type in your primary keywords in the search areas and choose those keywords which have the widest reach but at the same time have low competition. When you choose the keywords through such a criteria the SERPs for your website have a greater chances of increasing.

  1. Optimize your Posts:

The second most effective way of boosting SERPs is by optimizing the posts and articles. Wondering how you can do it; here are some tips for this. Research shows that posts that have a word limit of 700 or more perform better on search engine results. So, try to write long posts rather than short ones. The keyword density in your post should be optimal, but be careful of keyword stuffing. Try to use the primary keywords in the title of your post, in the URL, first paragraph, in the sub-headings and in the last paragraph of your post.

  1. Ethical Link Building:

Genuine backlinks from good sites is one of the oldest and most popular ways of increasing SERPs. Today link earning is the way to move forward. If your post is very good, relevant and engaging then people would want to link to your post. Another way of earning links is by guest blogging.

These were some of the most basic steps that you should take in order to boost the SERPs of your site.

Search Engine Marketing Explained

For businesses who want to promote their business online understanding the concept of Search Engine Marketing is crucial. So, what’s exactly Search Engine Marketing? In short, it is a form of Internet marketing that uses the placement of paid ads in search engine results page. It is a great way of marketing webpages through the use of search engines like Google, Bing, etc. There is a difference between Search Engine Optimization and Search Engine Marketing even though both aim at gaining more traffic for a website. SEO is unpaid whereas SEM is paid for.

Search Engine Marketing can help small business establishments to get noticed by users online which in turn can increase their online sales. When a user searches for a particular product or service online, two types of search results come up. One is the natural or organic search result and other is the paid results. When one looks at the search results one will be able to see that both the search results have been segregated distinctly. Both SEO and SEM are effective ways of gaining traffic and potential customers. Today, both SEO and SEM are used together as a part of online marketing strategy. Online marketers use a combination of both of these methods to get the best possible results and exposure for a site.

There are ad placement programs by most search engines like Google has the Google Adwords, Yahoo offers Yahoo Search Marketing and Microsoft (Bing) has the Microsoft Ad Center. All these platforms offer a number of ways to advertise online on a budget. The most popular one of them is the pay per click management which works on the basis that you pay only when someone clicks your ads and lands up on your site. The cost involved in PPC depends on the competitiveness of the keywords. In other words search engine marketing can also be termed as search engine advertising

The Rise of Search Engine Marketing

Pay Per Click (PPC) is the cornerstone of advertising revenue for the three big search engine providers today, namely Google[1], yahoo and Microsoft[2]. Google’s AdWords has the greatest online presence[3] in the search engine advertising sphere so Yahoo and Microsoft have consolidated their efforts into the Yahoo | Bing Network. With AdWords now Google’s biggest source of income we may want to explore what PPC is and how it rivals traditional advertising.

With every new communication or broadcasting medium comes a new avenue of advertising. What would newspapers be without the classifieds or full-page ads? Telephones enabled telemarketers to talk to you about their new amazing product within your very home. Watching the Super Bowl wouldn’t be the same without the half-time commercial spots. In all of the above examples advertising took advantage of the capabilities of the medium. With colour printing came colour ads. Jingles that were popular with their respective brands on radio easily made the jump to television, with the added benefit that listeners were now also viewers of their product.

If advertising adopts the capabilities of the medium it inhabits, what then are the hallmarks of the World Wide Web that all before it significantly lacked? In short, interactivity.

A person had a binary choice with the consumption of an advert in a newspaper, on the tube or over the radio. Either you paid attention to it or you didn’t. Marketers also only had one choice in the delivery of their ad, which magazine, television channel or newspaper would display it. This was the interface between the marketers and the world. They could only hope that their advert will reach its broadly indicated audience and that some response will be merited, often difficult to measure directly. Traditional advertising is a one-way street.

The internet is not.

Whereas a person used to read, listen or view content, now they browse. That indicates that they are being selective and thus constantly engaged in the material. That’s a great boon in itself already but the real gain here comes from the information we reap from customer behaviour. Thanks to the two-way nature of the internet we can now learn a little bit about the people who showed interest in your ad, and maybe even about those who did not. At the forefront of this marketing revolution sits Google AdWords.

There are two fundamental methods for navigating and finding information on the web with a web browser. Clicking on hyperlinks and using search engines. The latter provides the user with relevant sources of the former. Google has become so ubiquitous in this regard that it has embedded itself in today’s lexicon[4].

Google is focused on delivering rich, relevant information to its users and to that end applies the same philosophy to its advertising services. With Google’s AdWords the lofty goal of displaying your ad to as wide an audience as possible is discouraged. Narrowing your audience, designing your ad with the intended customer in mind and essentially second-guessing what a user would want to see are the recommended practices. To facilitate this Google has added functionalities to AdWords that provides multitudes of feedback on customer behaviour in near real time. A marketer can now observe ad performance, experiment and adjust accordingly. This is the spirit behind targeted advertising, enabled by fast adoption of emergent technology.

It is increasingly clear that the next phase in advertising is proactive and it is online.

References:

[1] http://investor.google.com/financial/tables.html

[2] http://www.microsoft.com/investor/EarningsAndFinancials/Earnings/PressReleaseAndWebcast/FY14/Q1/default.aspx

[3] http://www.comscore.com/Insights/Press_Releases/2014/1/comScore_Releases_December_2013_US_Search_Engine_Rankings

[4] http://www.oxforddictionaries.com/us/definition/american_english/google

Passing the Google AdWords exams

The first step towards becoming a true master of Search Engine Marketing (SEM) with Google AdWords is studying for, and passing, the Fundamentals exam and at least one Advanced exam.

If you’re reading this then it should be safe to assume you are already familiar with SEM and specifically Pay Per Click (PPC).

To qualify for the exams all you need is a Google account, which you most likely already have, and sign up for Google Partners. It may be prudent to create a new account exclusively for Google Adwords so as to maintain a professional online persona, as well as keep private life separate from business.

All three exams are multiple choice based and have a time limit. Taking the exams used to entail a nominal fee, but that has been waived to ostensibly encourage more people to get qualified. Questions are asked in succession, with no option to change your answers that you have already submitted. The entire examination is encapsulated in a single online session but you are not prevented from accessing other online content during this period. It is suggested to rather focus on studying thoroughly rather than depending on on-the-fly research, especially since a significant portion of the content tests insight as opposed to simple retention.

The Fundamentals exam preparation content is a good guide on learning how to manage an AdWords account in addition to understanding AdWords itself. This isn’t so by accident. Almost everything from the second section onwards is focussed on campaign management.

As for the Advanced exams, Advanced Search is by far the more enriching option. Despite being billed exclusively for the Search Network it covers content very important to any would be Search Engine Marketer whereas Advanced Display is more niche.

Bear in mind that there is a 7 day restriction on re-taking an examination should you not meet its passing requirements. Besides that however there is no other consequence to failing an exam. There is nothing preventing you from creating a spare Google Account to explore the examinations and getting familiar with the testing environment, but it goes without saying sticking to just studying well instead is the recommended course of action.

Preparation for each examinations may take anything from one to three weeks depending on the amount of time available to study and learner competency.

 

More information about the Google AdWords exams are available here:

https://support.google.com/partners/answer/3153810?hl=en

Sign up for Google Partners here:

https://www.google.com/partners

 

How Guaranteed SEO Services Work?

Have you seen a huge drop in traffic after Google released the latest Penguin update? If so, it is likely that your site have been penalized by Google. A drop in your site’s traffic can really be detrimental for your business. But, the good news is that you can help your site come out of the Penguin net by investing in a reliable and trust worthy guaranteed SEO service. It is likely that you must have heard about it, but were not sure how it works. Guaranteed SEO services are a one of its kind SEO services that ensures the client of desired SERPs in a pre-defined time frame. If the results your desire are not met then the clients get 100% of their money back. However, a SEO service provider shouldn’t be promising you great SERPs without an in-depth analysis of your site. If they do so, then understand that there is something fishy.

The competition among websites online is increasing by the day. Everyone wants to rank high on search engine results for relevant keywords. Those who want to have a winning edge over their competitors invest in the services of a good and reputable SEO service provider. SEO experts who offer guaranteed SEO results first carry out a thorough analysis for their client’s site, they evaluate their present ranking, check how its competitors are doing and carry out an analysis of the keywords that need to be targeted. When they have done these steps only after that they would be able to suggest the SEO measures which if taken can boost the site’s ranking in search engine results.

Investing your money in a reliable guaranteed SEO service is definitely a good idea. But, you must choose them carefully. There are many shady companies who promise your great result without looking into the details of your site. When you choose a company for such services make sure that you carry out a back ground check about them. Make sure that they don’t resort to any unethical means to boost SERPs. Once you are sure about the methodology they use, you should be good to go ahead with their services.

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