When using the influential online marketing tools of key word optimization and paid ads/listings, understanding the impact of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) and Return on Investment (ROI) on your online marketing efforts is vitally important. Continual and consistent monitoring, analyzing and responding to your data is the best way to gain a comprehensive picture of your search engine results and how to maximize your ROI, leading to better business results.
General SERP Research
First, here are some general, foundational SERP research results that are helpful to keep in mind as you outline and review your online marketing strategy:
- In an analysis of SERP pages, 85% of listings are organic and 15% are paid. Despite what you might have heard, organic search is still king. The natural question is what percentage of these first page listing are currently owned by your brand? The answer to that simple question can mean tens of thousands of dollars in business.
- In the highly competitive organic listing arena, the majority of clicks occur on the first listing. However, this doesn’t mean that the first listing is always the best when it comes to paid search. We recommend testing your various ad positions to see what works best for you, your brand, and the needs of your prospects.
- There is at least one ad on more than half of all SERPs. This is oftentimes surprising to consider because there are a number of very inexpensive terms that you can buy that have little to no competition.
- In general, paid listings work best at the top of the page, as opposed to the side listing, and being first generates the most click-throughs. However, don’t forget to test every ad position because there are instances where a lower search position can actually provide a higher return on your investment.
Specific SERP Research
Next, explore the data specific to your brand and business. In order to effectively develop and monitor your strategy and ROI. We recommend considering the following as vital key performance indicators especially as you head into 2013:
The Top Ten List
Your Brands’ Performance:
- How well are your paid and organic marketing strategies performing in regards to quality of the campaign structure as well as quality of the traffic? You’re essentially looking at the performance of your campaign in regards to click through rate, conversion rate, and quality score. Then you’re looking at how well is that traffic performing when they get to your website.
- How do your click-through rates (CTR) vary across your campaign? Ideally you want to be looking for any areas that require improvement. We tend to notice that the longer a campaign has been active it can sometimes reach a plateau which can quickly be improved through modifications to ad copy, keyword bidding strategies and a variety other techniques.
- What is the influence of the percentage of your SERP listings, as well as the number of your listings, on your CTR? So imagine that not only do you have a top three organic search listing that is also supported with a PPC strategy. How do these two strategies support each other and what is their impact on your total share of voice? In some cases, we have client sites in a top three organic position, paid search listing, and also microsites/news mentions. Our studies have indicated for certain phrases we could have over seventy percent of the total click traffic for one particular high value phrase.
- How does your CTR, daily budget, paid/organic strategy match up to your competitors?
- How does your performance differ on Google versus other search engines or social networks? We have found that in some situations a client might actually have a higher CTR and ROI from Bing than Google. Or in other situations Facebook might produce less traffic, but a far higher conversion rate.
- How engaged are your customers by your content (how long do they stay on your site, how many pages do they view, etc.)? There is no question we have the data, but oftentimes we find that our role is simply to help our clients connect the dots to give an outsiders perspective on how the campaign is performing against industry standards.
- What keywords do your competitors use, do they use SEM, SEO or both, and who has the most share of voice?
- How does your ad copy and campaign results compare to others?
- What is the opportunity cost of not implementing a paid keyword campaign when your competitors do?
- How does your online marketing performance vary according to cyclical high and low points, and how are competitors addressing these natural dips and peaks using online marketing? One of our favorite tools for trend-based research is Google Trends
Additional Consideration: Are you using all available Google promotion tools such as remarketing, sitelinks, etc.? One of the fastest growing marketing strategies that we are seeing is the use of remarketing to help promote your website to previous site visitors. Not only does this keep your brand top of mind, but it also can be a great way to individually connect with the expressed interests of visitors from their last visitor session.
These measurement points add up to vital information about your ROI and the effectiveness of your overall strategy. This data may confirm that you are on the right track or offer valuable insight about where you need to fine tune or even overhaul your online marketing plans. Using data to inform your business decisions will be one of the most important steps you make towards reaching success.
For help with data collection, monitoring, analysis and conversion response optimization, please contact us.