If you are like me, the word “SERPs” sounds like “slurps” and summons images of the brilliantly colored, corn syrup flavored ice drinks that you can buy at the Quickie Mart on hot days. This, or a dubious character from either Harry Potter or the Princess Bride. Needless to say, SERPs are neither, and here’s what you should know about them.
SERP stands for Search Engine Results Page, and it’s what you see after typing in a word, set of words, or phrase into a search engine and press go.
From a search marketing standpoint, SERPs are critical: a large portion of your customer base may come from landing on an SERP with your name on it. And, 9 out of 10 users click on the first page they see– the page with the top hits. With those numbers, you want to make sure you’re on that page!
As indispensable as they may be, SERPs are changing. Knowing how to market yourself based on search engine results means you need to understand these changes, and how they affect your business.
Organic results fall lower and lower
About 10 years ago, when you searched for something in Google you received a little blue list of businesses that Google knew were near you, maybe a Wikipedia article. When I searched “portland photography” today, my first two hits were advertisements, then a big line-up of Google reviews with a map pack, and then finally I started to see the business websites of local photography companies and individuals in my area.
New content, like direct answers, paid advertising (Adwords or Pay-Per-Click ads), Google my business pages/map listings, and infographics, are now the most common content at the top of SERPs– and organic results slip to the lower rungs of the ladder.
Pay to play
In addition, web experts continue to report that paid advertising gets the cushiest spots, and is (unsurprisingly) increasing. Paid advertising is also getting sneakier. Studies find that fewer internet users are aware they’ve clicked on an advertisement than ever before.
In some cases, direct answers can be a source of undercover ads — the first hit may answer the query searched for, and it is supplied by someone paying for it.
Quick and dirty
As a result of the new SERP content like direct answers, map packs, and infographics, internet users are able to glean more information (albeit somewhat superficial information) quicker. This means they spend less time digging into a few chosen sources — like your website — to learn what they’re looking for.
Studies tracking eye movement (see image at right) show that users also spend more time looking at the results, and only a few of them, rather than to the sidebar, where local ads also commonly appear.
A guide in changing terrain
All these changes may seem daunting, particularly when considering the fact that they too will change over the next couple of years — just as ordinary business marketers are starting to get the hang of things.
But you aren’t ordinary, and neither is LocalFresh. When you work with our professionals, you can rely on our quick reflexes to spot changes in the dynamic internet marketing scene. Together we help your business to succeed in this ever changing environment– not simply riding the waves, but hanging ten while you’re doing it.