SEO and PPC update

What’s been happening recently in SEO and PPC?

The search industry continues to evolve and develop, and keeping up with the ever-increasing pace of change can be a challenge… We’re staying on top of things in the Search team at Code, though — here are some of the latest developments in both SEO and PPC, plus a summary of what they might mean for businesses trying to stay ahead of the game.

Social influence

There’s already been plenty written about how important social media is in building brand engagement and credibility, but there’s now yet another great reason to make sure your social media accounts are up to scratch…

That’s because social spaces like Twitter, Facebook, Google + and Pinterest have become increasingly integrated with content and, therefore, SEO. There’s now evidence that well shared and cited social content has a correlation with better website visibility– so, basically, people sharing your social content can boost your website’s search rankings.

Obviously, this is great news for companies who already invest the time and effort into maintaining their social media account, but bad news for those who are lagging behind. Time to get up to speed!

Check out this MOZ study on social influence to find out more.

Star ratings

You might have noticed that some Google search results now show star ratings, providing them with extra stand out that could encourage valuable extra click-throughs (see example below).

This is a simple, effective and immediate way to showcase your popularity. We may not like to think it, but we humans are social conformists; by presenting yourself as a well-known and liked brand on a search engine, consumers will more likely view you as a front runner in your particular market.

As such, this is an effective way of inspiring confidence in your service or product, and works especially well with high-cost goods where consumers like to receive extra reassurances that they’re making the right decision.

One of the ways you can get your company a star rating that’s visible on Google is by using markup, small pieces of html code that you can embed on your website. For more information, check out Google’s FAQ.

Remember, though, that you’ll need to be proactive with your reputation management if you’re taking this route and respond to any negative comments quickly and efficiently.

Google site links

We all know that Google loves to shake up its search results, and the latest development in this regard is the implementation of Google Comparisons (see what this looks like below).

What this does is push the organic search results down even further (meaning some businesses might be forced to advertise via this service to ensure they stay visible). Consequently, companies in particularly competitive industries such as insurance, mortgage and credit cards should be prepared to potentially see a drop in organic search traffic — however, this shouldn’t apply so much for longer term key phrases such as ‘mortgage ratings in the UK’ or ‘car insurance tips’.

‘In-Depth Articles’ algorithm

Google’s ‘In-Depth Articles’ algorithm is a new advancement in search that’s designed to ensure that the best quality, most detailed content can rise to the top — see example below:

This gives companies an opportunity to show authority in their specific sector by providing long form, good quality content (and ensures that those who don’t are penalised). Although this algorithm hasn’t been rolled out in the UK yet, it should be soon.

PPC ad extensions

Historically, PPC ‘s not exactly been the most creative form of advertising, but things got a good deal more interesting with the introduction of Google’s PPC ad extensions.

Advertisers are now provided with several ad extension options that can make their PPC adverts more enticing to searchers, and it seems the majority have already jumped on the bandwagon so that extensions are quickly becoming a PPC norm. So how can you stand out from the search engine crowd?

One way of using extensions to your advantage is to utilise them in unison (as seen below):

Choosing PPC ads including various pieces of information like this will allow you to speak to numerous consumers using a single advert. For example, ‘offers’ enable you to widen your target audience by relating to consumers who may think they can’t afford your products; if they see the word ‘offers’, they may be persuaded to visit your site.

You can also pull the star reviews which we discussed earlier into your PPC ads to further strengthen brand perception.

In addition to this, Google recently released a new Beta extension titled ‘image ads’. This allows you to show three pictures above your advert, making a common text ad dramaticly stand out from the rest of the search results. They say a picture speaks a thousand words, so ppc’ers — say goodbye to character limits!

There are a few things you need to bear in mind with image ads, though. Like Google ‘site links’, your advert must be ranking in top position for the images to show; if this is not the case, the advert will revert to a standard text ad. Also, because it is a Beta (testing trial) for now, you have to apply and be chosen as eligible to use this new product — we expect it will be released to all shortly though, so keep an eye on the Code blog for the latest.