How Google SERP Updates Have Impacted Consumer Behavior, Local SEO and SEM

The search landscape continues to change making it even tougher for individual retailers and dealers to handle SEO and PPC themselves.

But the big picture is that consumer’s search behavior has changed with each new update from Google that have altered the way search engine results pages (SERPs) are formatted. The ways consumers have reacted to these changes have implications for any brand’s SEO and PPC campaigns.

The latest eye tracking studies confirm that consumers are not locked in the top left corner anymore (aka: Google Golden Triangle), but are looking vertically down the page more often. The natural scrolling behavior used on mobile devices has no doubt impacted this behavior.

Additionally, Google’s use of visual features like maps, knowledge graphs, and carousel elements all have forced users to scan around the page more as they orient themselves.  These elements have reduced the predictability of the search engine results page, and forced us all to scan around a bit more to see what we are looking for.

The good news for SEO is that more exposure is spread around to the top four listings.  The top listing still receives approximately 33% of the clicks, but there is more exposure now to organic listings 2-4.

The more challenging aspect of SEO remains – getting a high ranking and keeping that rank. Today, it has more to do with a holistic effort across social media and more in-depth content on your site versus some technical exercise undertaken by your webmaster behind the scenes.

Pay per click (PPC) campaigns have also gotten more challenging as click through rates on sponsored listings on the right side of the page has fallen by two thirds since 2005. It’s more important now than ever for your text ad to be placed at the top of the page to get noticed, instead of simply being listed on page one, where 99% of consumers stay with their search results.

So the search game continues to change and we continue to recommend that companies that sell through local retailers put systems and programs in place to help them succeed.

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