Search engines may penalize sites they discover using black hat methods, either by reducing their rankings or eliminating their listings from their databases altogether. Such penalties can be applied either automatically by the search engines' algorithms, or by a manual site review. One example was the February 2006 Google removal of both BMW Germany and Ricoh Germany for use of deceptive practices. Both companies, however, quickly apologized, fixed the offending pages, and were restored to Google's list.
Quick question. Do you ever click on the paid results when you conduct a search? It turns out, most users don’t. People typically bypass paid results and click on the top organic results. I get it. They’re looking for the most relevant and trustworthy answers to their problems. A top result that appears to be bought doesn’t appeal to them as much as an organic result. That’s where the credibility factor comes into play. It’s why 75% of clicks are organic.
Great analysis and tips, Rand. Your first tip was to focus on branded search... but when it comes to small-medium businesses, there's a limit on how much brand search-demand one can produce. Are you saying that google search will eventually become an engine made only for entities/businesses we already know of? Where does that leave the whole discovery process?
The piece on generating demand for branded queries rather than just product-based ones is particularly interesting here. It sounds as though it'll be more important than ever to have a strong brand in order to succeed (rather than just having a well-optimized site -- and ideally, having the strategic, technical, and creative sides all working together cohesively). Perhaps it's possible that brand exposure through things like answer boxes can still deliver some value too, even if it's difficult to measure, and CTRs are diminished?
But search ranking is competitive, so naturally, it’s not easy to claim that top spot in organic search. That’s why many marketers and website owners pay to play, and why so many people choose the Pay Per Click (PPC) route. It’s fast. It’s effective. It’s high-visibility for your business. The caveat? You stop paying, and your visibility goes **POOF**.
Using the insight from the Data Cube can serve your blog content creation process in two ways. To begin, you will be able to create posts that align themselves well with what people seek online. This will increase the traffic to your page and help you to boost engagement. Secondly, since you are maintaining a steady stream of high-value posts that are tailored to the interests of your target audience, you will have a far easier time building consistent readership and encouraging people to move through the sales funnel.
Google is moving into more and more aggressively commercial spaces, like jobs, flights, products, all of these kinds of searches where previously there was opportunity and now there's a lot less. If you're Expedia or you're Travelocity or you're Hotels.com or you're Cheapflights and you see what's going on with flight and hotel searches in particular, Google is essentially saying, "No, no, no. Don't worry about clicking anything else. We've got the answers for you right here."
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Melissa: I think with thought leadership there’s a variety of different ways that you can go about this. But one of the best ways is really just utilizing that blog feature, the LinkedIn Pulse, part of LinkedIn, because you are already connected with the best audience possible. This is your business network, right? And then every time someone in your network likes or engages with your blog post, it amplifies it to their network. It’s like having a built in audience for your blog without all of that groundwork of creating your own blog.
So just how much of the traffic that finds itself labeled as direct is actually organic? Groupon conducted an experiment to try to find out, according to Search Engine Land. They de-indexed their site for the better part of a day and looked at direct and organic traffic, by hour and by browser, to pages with long URLs, knowing that pages with shorter URLs actually do get a large amount of direct traffic, as they can be typed quickly and easily into a browser. The results showed a 50% drop in direct traffic, clearly demonstrating how all of these other factors come into play during the analytics process.
Well, yes and no. Sure, you can get hit with an algorithm change or penalty that destroys all your traffic. However, if you have good people who know what they are doing, this is not likely to happen, and if it does, it is easy (in most cases) to get your visits back. Panda and Penguin are another story, but if you get hit by those it is typically not accidental.