Not so long ago we learned how to “Google it” to learn anything we wanted to know. It was a rapid rise to freedom of information and instant knowledge.
Over the years since then there have been shifts in the Google landscape. Many people who wouldn’t even THINK of themselves as technical by nature have taken up conversations about the mysterious Google algorithms and the secret sauce to getting to the top of their search pages.
Numerous studies have been conducted that look at how we, as search engine users, relate to the search results presented by Google. According to a recent report from Mediative, the way people engage with the search engine result pages (SERPs) has changed significantly over the past decade.
In 2005 they conducted a study using eye tracking and found that users tended to focus their gaze on the top-left corner of a SERP where the first result was usually displayed. This area became known as the “Golden Triangle.” Look at the heat mapped image of the 2005 study, you can see for yourself that the area in that upper left corner was the focus of attention for most participants.
Today, the Golden Triangle has all but disappeared. A look at the 2014 results demonstrate how strikingly different behaviors are from those observed a decade ago. Users tend to scan down the page more now and vary their focus on other areas depending on their particular search. The 2014 heat map image indicates a much broader area of observation.
This change in behavior is partially the result of changes Google has made to its SERPs along with the impact of our increased use of mobile devices. Consumers have become conditioned to scan vertically more than horizontally.
Back in 2005, the most relevant results were nearly always in the upper-left corner of the page. Google has introduced a number of new elements since then including the Knowledge Graph, Carousel, and Local Listings among others.
The study reveals some interesting details:
- Users now tend to scan pages more quickly. In 2005, searchers spent just under 2 seconds viewing each listing; in 2014 that has dropped to 1.17 seconds.
- The impact of a Knowledge Graph result varied significantly depending on whether or not the answer was relevant. Participants often skipped irrelevant Knowledge Graph results and went straight to the listings below them. However, if a Knowledge Graph result was relevant, it drew away a significant amount of attention from the subsequent listings.
- Google’s Carousel—an image strip at the top of the page accompanied by other information such as ratings—had much less of an impact on the searchers results than did Knowledge Graph.
But, the most interesting details to emerge are these:
- The highest placed organic result still garners roughly the same amount of click activity (32.8%) as in 2005. However, with the addition of the new page elements, the top search result is not viewed for as long, or by as many people.
- Organic results positioned in the 2nd through 4th slots now receive a significantly higher share of clicks than they did in 2005.
Overall this means good news for smaller businesses in competitive markets. Search has evolved to allow for consumers’ attention to include more than just the highest position. The spots from 4th on up are seeing 30% more attention today than was the case in 2005 (see the chart). The coveted top spot is still the master of the page, but as consumers come to realize their needs are often broader than the largest or most invested participants. Those who make the “above the fold” group in the first five spots on page one will see their efforts rewarded.
Clicks are evolving. The top 4 slots have improved 30% since 2005.
Want to know what not to do with your online presence? Here’s a list of 10 do’s and 10 don’ts to keep your online activities on the right track in 2013.
Don’t: Build a “bells & whistles” flashy website.
Do: Stick to the fundamentals — but it doesn’t have to be boring or utilitarian. Take the time to understand the interests, desires, and objectives of those who will find, and use, your website. Give your viewers a positive experience by focusing on delivering answers to their questions. Whether it be “where are you located?” or “how can I deal with a constant ringing in my ears?” if you make it easy for them to find what they want without making them click 10 times, or wait for an animation to stop they will be happier.
So, skip over those gimmicky design elements, like banners or videos in Flash (which slow down load times, or not load at all for some mobile* users) and any other “cool” or trendy tricks unless they are critical to the message.
* More on mobile users a little further down on this list.
Don’t: Use a social media page in place of a website
Do: Get a professional business website. Include links to your social media pages if you wish, but don’t overlook the key role a well planned website plays. With a website you have control of the content allowing you to generate interest and track activity, such as phone calls, visits, and clicks. By optimizing content you’ll be able to develop and manage new leads and create custom landing pages to support online or digital marketing. While social media pages are an excellent addition to your online presence, they should never be a substitute for a website.
Don’t: Start a social profile and leave it unattended.
Do: Use your social pages to showcase your business by posting informative, valuable and sharable content. Establishing yourself as a source for helpful information and a reliable resource will bring followers and create more traffic to your website. If you’re not sure what to post, listen to the questions that patients ask when you are helping them. Use those talking points to create a blog post on your website, and let your social followers know its there. You can also ask current fans and followers what they’d like to see more of as well, stay relevant though, keep to your strengths. Engaging with followers through polls, creating casual videos of products or services, or fan/follower-only deals, specials, or events are often well received.
Don’t: Get caught up in a quest for “Likes” or use multiple “Like Us” messages to coerce people to your social media pages.
Do: Give people a reason to like you! They will follow you, like you, join your circle, or perform any other action they need to take if you show them the value in doing so. When promoting your social pages in emails, blogs, or on your website you can stress the unique benefits they get by joining your social community. Then, go on and provide them with that informative or entertaining content to show that you understand what they want.
Don’t: Neglect your business blog.
Do: Use your blog to exhibit your professional expertise and establish thought leadership in your industry. Adding fresh, highly relevant content to your website is the single best way to drive search results to your site. Write content with desirable keywords in mind, but avoid obscuring the primary message just to emphasize those keywords. If you want readers to find you credible, write to their interests, supplementing the text with words that help optimize your site overall. It isn’t the repetitious use of the words that drives traffic, it’s the meaning.
OK, well that’s a good start. We’ll cover the remaining five do’s and don’t’s in the next post.
It’s likely you have a website for your business already — statistically speaking, most businesses today have a web presence of some sort. Great! Can you say one way or the other if it is working for you? Is it designed to be informative, does it provide consumers with relevant content, and has it helped increase interest and sales in your practice? On the flip side, if you happen to be a business without a website, do you know what it takes to make it successful?
Designing a great site is more than nice colors
Website templates and simple build-your-own software has made it relatively easy to develop a functional website quickly. However, these options typically suffer from many disadvantages as well. Just like desktop publishing and photo editing software have given anyone with a PC the opportunity to become their own Art Director, these web tools have afforded business owners the option to develop a site for themselves.
If you have little experience with website design, or design in general, you should consider utilizing the services of an Internet marketing professional. Why? Because your business is counting on it; because you are probably already facing time and schedule challenges in your life; and (most importantly) because you may be inadvertently limiting your new site’s visibility, or causing an unseen barrier to the growth of site visitors and subsequent sales.
Finding a qualified provider can be challenging as well. It may be tempting to consider your nephew’s friend, who is “good with computers” and has put together some “really cool sites” for his/her band and a few neighbors. Sure, it may seem like a prudent way to keep costs down – initially. How about for the long-term? Who will make updates, corrections, revisions? How will you manage the care and feeding of the content on the site, or will you leave that information static? What about technical concerns, such as broken links or hosting issues?
We recommend working with a professional or agency that specializes in Internet marketing solutions beyond just web design. Often, that expertise is of extra value, as they can combine other useful features into your site to ensure its success and continued existence. There are other considerations involved in developing a business website. One critical objective is understanding not just what you want your website to achieve, but also what your customers expect from your business.
What do your customers want from your business?
Addressing this question does not need to be difficult. There are some quick ways to assess your needs. First, you should understand what the competition is doing. Researching a competitor’s website can provide you with important insight. Looking at their website(s) from a customer’s point of view you’ll want to see what works for you and what doesn’t. Some things to look for are: Is information easy to find? Does the site look appealing? Is the website one of the first listed in a keyword search? Is it clear and easy to contact a representative and schedule an appointment, or are there many steps involved?
Now is the time when you will come to realize the benefits of using professionals. After an initial concept of your site has been designed and laid out, the content can be written. They can create concise, informative content that captures attention and provides potential customers with the information they seek. Equally important, the content will incorporate keywords that ensure your website is optimized for search engines (known as SEO), crafted to improve the site’s ranking, and getting you positioned ahead of your competition.
Creating a site without reviewing its analytics is like sending out a direct mail package and not tracking its response. Site analytic tools can provide you with a wealth of vital information regarding your website, including how many visitors per day, what keywords and searches were used, how long they spend on the site, and more. This data can be put to good use, helping to regularly tweak the site and its content – making it more appealing to visitors and keeping you a step ahead of your competition.
Consult YHN has established a partnership with WebArt, a professional web development company, to assist all Associates in the creation, refinement, and management of their digital marketing efforts. WebArt will work directly with you to implement a web strategy and customize a development solution to match your specific requirements. Together Consult YHN and WebArt have created several exclusive packages for site creation, optimization, and advanced digital marketing.
Contact Consult YHN Marketing [marketing@ConsultYHN.com] or check out WebArt by clicking here.
Consult YHN’s recommended digital marketing strategy is centered on the development of highly relevant and flexible websites built upon a Content Management System (CMS) platform. CMS websites allow the user (Associate) to make routine changes or updates to their own website (e.g.: store hours, employee bios, headshots, newsletters, blog posts, etc.) These sites are rooted in consumer intensive content and communicate the Associates’ clinical service message. The results of this approach are sites optimized for search engines (Google, Yahoo, Bing, etc.) helping to drive traffic to their website.
Search Engine Optimization improves page ranking.
An important addition to any website development is the incorporation of Search Engine Optimization (SEO). Focusing on Search Engine Optimization (SEO) through content, keywords, and tagging (keywords inserted within the code for the site) encourage search engines to find and competitively rank your website higher than competitors relative to specific search terms. Different search terms will have different results rankings. Optimization improves the search results for several key words or phrases by emphasizing those words within the content or structure of the site. This type of SEO is known as organic and helps raise website page rankings and remain at or near the top of the search listings. Using organic optimization requires continuous SEO management and is necessary to keep a viable online presence.
Another optimization strategy is Search Engine Management (SEM) and a tactic known as Pay-Per-Click (PPC) web managers help businesses increase their online presence. Paid links appear as the first few search results from the search engines (usually in a shaded box) and also in a narrow, vertical column along the right-hand side of the results page. PPC requires a monthly budget as the advertiser is charged a fee each time a consumer clicks on a paid link. Keyword fees are negotiated and bid upon by multiple advertisers, with highly sought after words drawing higher rates. This type of optimization is best added to a website once a strong organic SEO methodology is implemented.
Consult YHN has created a website development program that allows Associates to create a new site, revise an outdated one, or supplement their current site with additional services and support. Contact Consult YHN Marketing at 800.984.3272 to discuss your goals and objectives or speak with your Associate Manager to get more details and pricing. A capabilities presentation and a portfolio of websites are also available.