You’ve heard of the Google Panda update, the Google Penguin update, and the Google Algorithm changes. While the first two are well-known ranking factors, the last one is a bit less discussed. But, it’s an important ranking factor, and it can shift the balance of power in your favor.
The Google algorithm changes are typically announced in a big red email that drops in your inbox. You’ll also see these algorithm updates live in your Google search results, whether you’re logged in or not. But, if you want to see how these algorithm changes will affect your business, you have to examine the results of your online marketing efforts. This is where the challenge comes in.
In the past, you could log into Google and see how your website performed in organic search results. Now, with the increasing algorithm changes, it’s become more difficult to understand what’s happening on your website. Which search results are natural and which are manipulated?
Additionally, if you try to manually adjust your site’s content to manipulate the results, the Google Panda update will counsel against such actions. So, if you want to know how your content is faring against the latest algorithm changes, you have to look at the numbers.
The Growing Influence of Online Search
With each new generation, the search behavior of consumers changes. Today’s youth are known for their love and use of Google, with over 72% reporting to the PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC) that they use the search engine to find product information, read reviews, and compare prices. This is in contrast to previous generations, who primarily turned to print publications, such as The New York Times or the Wall Street Journal, to discover news stories and analysis pieces.
Further proof of Google’s influence, over 53 million American adults turn to the search engine for health information annually, while 32 million use it to search for recipes, ideas, and tips. Additionally, 16.5 million use it to search for the most current news headlines. And speaking of news, over 11 million use it to follow breaking news stories. This is evident in the fact that Google was the number one most downloaded app globally in 2016, while Facebook was the number two most downloaded app, according to Apptopia.
Why Are Online Search Results Changing?
To answer this question, it’s important to look back at how Google has evolved over the years.
The first search engine, which was founded in 1998 and later purchased by Google, was based on a binary classification system, meaning web pages were labeled as either obscene or not-obscene. This made it easy for users to find the content they were looking for, but it also limited the search results.
Then, in 2004, Google revived the idea of searching for keywords and introduced Searches Without Borders, an international search engine, allowing users to enter one word or phrase and have results from multiple languages and locations. This feature was so well-received that it was eventually rolled out to all users, regardless of their country of origin.
The following year, Google launched Instant Search, which enabled users to type a query and have results appear instantly. This was a step toward making search easier for its users.
But, as with many technological advancements, the algorithms that power today’s search engines have gotten faster and smarter, pushing consumers to changed behaviors, and consequently, search results.
How Is Google Changing Search?
Since the beginning, Google has focused on simplifying the search experience for its users, relying on its pandas, penguins, and algos to sniff out spammy content and keep the results relevant and helpful. But, in the last year, Google has taken online marketing into account, as well, incorporating features that help advertisers understand how their marketing is performing, such as click throughs and conversions. As a result, online marketers must now examine keyword data, paid search ads, and website analytics to figure out what is working and what is not. It’s become more complex to ascertain the true impact of online marketing efforts, especially since Google has obfuscated the results with more algorithm changes, such as the Panda update and the Penguin update, in 2018, furthering the challenge.
The Growing Influence of Paid Search Results
Earlier this year, Google announced that nearly all of its advertisements would be supported by a paywall. This change will have a lasting impact on how digital marketers conduct business and how consumers find relevant information online.
While this may not seem critical to the average person, this shift means that businesses will need to consider how to best promote their products online to generate revenue. While organic search results may have been previously considered free content, these paid results are now the new normal, and it’s up to advertisers to adapt.
Why Is Paid Search Important?
Simply put, if your product is good enough for people to click on and make a purchase from, you’ve already achieved success. From a business perspective, this means you’ve generated revenue and demonstrated value. In today’s world, that’s all that matters.
But, if you want to know how effective your digital marketing strategies are, you have to look beyond just demonstrating value and consider how consumers actually find the information they’re seeking. This is where paid search ads come in.
In the past, marketers used to simply target demographics and assume that consumers would come to them, unaided by paid search ads. While this may have been sufficient when search engines were moderately sized businesses, this is no longer the case when each individual search query has endless potential to lead to a completely different website.
For example, if you’re searching for mortgage, you’ll most likely be directed to a bank’s website to make a finance-related purchase. But, if you enter insurance into the search bar, you’ll be taken to a comparison site that provides information about multiple insurance policies.
As a result of the growing importance of paid search, Google has made significant changes to its format and functionality, including revising its algorithm to better match keywords and ads with content. To learn more, consult Google’s ad guides or take a look at how to best optimize your paid search ads.
How Do I Optimize My Paid Search Results?
To effectively market your product or service using paid search ads, you must first set a budget and create a strategy for optimizing your campaign, which includes the type of keywords and bidding strategies that you’ll use. Furthermore, you must consider how SEO will impact the performance of your ads, as well as your overall marketing strategy.
Once you’ve established the correct spelling of your keywords (keywords that your potential customers will use to find your product or service), you can begin to create ads that will convert (get click-throughs) and, subsequently, generate revenue.
To optimize your B2C (business to consumer) pennies, you will need to research the search terms your target audience uses. Once you know what those are, create ad campaigns for those terms, using Google’s keyword planner. You can also use this tool to figure out the keywords your competitors are using to competition analysis, if you’re willing to share this information with us.
To B2C advertisers, you will need to figure out your product’s MSRP (manufacturer’s suggested retail price) and create ad campaigns for that price range. Remember: low prices usually correspond with low margins and fewer sales, so you’ll need to do your fair share of marketing to bring those customers into your store, whether it’s an online store or a brick-and-mortar one.