This morning, browsing through emails, this headline caught my attention - When You Search Google, Only 13% of the Screen Has Real Results. For some of us, this isn’t so much of a shock but a nasty realization of something we knew was true all along. I still believe you can get good, organic, results from Google through search and as a publisher you can do a lot to make sure your site is within that 13% and visible to customers without a large paid search campaign. But this still doesn’t change the fact that Google is moving to a more [Google] product focused search results page (SERP).
For us in-the-know this isn’t such a big deal but to the average user, not knowing this difference is a big deal. It can make a user believe that the top paid search results are better quality content than the organic links further down the page because in some way they may have earned it. That may be oversimplifying the problem but I think when all advertisers, SEO specialists, and their clients are focused on that number one position, a lot of headaches can arise, especially if they are not looking at other factors effecting the results.
The image above shows how Aaron Harris, co-founder of Tutorspree, breaks down the segments of a typical Google SERPs page in their blog How Google is Killing Organic Search. The image shows 5 boxes wrapping around 4 different sections of the search results page.
- Green Section (14%) – This is the Google search bar, links to your account and notifications, search alternatives (images, shopping, news, etc), and links to other products like Gmail, G+, Maps, Etc.
- Blue Section (7%) – A map of related, local points of interested based on the search terms.
- Yellow Sections (29%) – Ads generated by Adwords.
- Red Section (13%) – Organic Search Results
With only 13% of the page dedicated to organic results its no wonder why SEO alone can be an uphill battle. You might be able to get some great results and occasionally get to the top of that search section or higher for long-tail and more obscure keywords but placing all your marketing dollars in one bucket alone is like only putting 13% of the effort. The infographic below illustrates how many factors go into deciding your position in organic search results. Some of those can be quickly fixed through updating the site’s content and focusing on keywords and body content, while others require long term growth of links, user usage data, and traffic and query data – not an overnight fix.
2013 Search Engine Ranking Factors Survey Results
The Moz Blog
To be truly effective in getting your site to rank higher publishers will need to work with their SEO and marketing teams to work on a multi-pronged approach to occupy more of a presence on each related SERP. Just starting an Adwords account and letting ads run won’t be enough either. Google has really made a push for Ad Extensions such as Sitelinks and Location Extensions which can help your ads occupy even more space on the page.
Putting all these scoring factors and strategies into a cohesive strategy can really help get your site found organically and through paid search. Driving more traffic to your site through paid search will help you build domain level authority, site usage data, query and traffic data which should all help increase your organic search rankings. We’re not entirely in a pay-to-play model yet, but Google seems to at least be giving the advantage to those who are spending money with them.