Relying on organic SEO? You're losing customers!

Have you noticed that more and more ads have been creeping into Google’s search results over the last few years? The result is that all the actual search results (known as “organic” results) are being pushed further and further down the page.

The Problem

In the screenshot below you can see the Google Ads highlighted in the red rectangles. This is what the Google results page looks like if I search for “Brisbane mechanic” on a laptop with a screen resolution of 1280×800, which is fairly common for 14″ or 15″ laptops (different screen resolutions will show more or less of the results page). As you can see, only two organic results show on the page without needing to scroll down. The content that shows at the top of the page without having to scroll down is known as being “above the fold“. In the same space there are SIX ads! Not to mention the ads get pride of place at the top of the screen, encouraging more people to click on them.

google search filled with ads

If you’re like me you probably ignore the ads and just scroll down to the organic results, or maybe you have a plugin like AdBlock and don’t see any ads at all. So what’s the big problem? The problem is that most web users aren’t that savvy, and many don’t even know that there’s a difference between those first three listings and the rest. Many people are just lazy and will click on the first result they see. Ask your  mother or grandmother to search for something on Google. I bet they click on the ads.

For some results there aren’t ANY organic results above the fold. That means everything you see after you search is advertising!

google uk hotel ads

What Else Can I Do?

“I want to rank number 1 on Google” is not a valid digital marketing strategy. Even less so now that the actual organic listings are being pushed so far down the page. The good news is there are so many other things that you can be doing to improve traffic to your website other than “traditional” SEO. Here are some ideas to get you started.

  • Embrace social media. I don’t mean go and post funny cat photos on Facebook. I also don’t mean to go and buy a bunch of fake Facebook likes on Fiverr. I’m talking about actually being social. This gets right to the heart of what social media is about. Do some research and find out where your target market is active online – is it Facebook? Twitter? Pinterest? TripAdvisor? The answer will vary depending on your industry and the demographics of your target market. Once you know where your target market is, go and be social with them! Think about what that means. Is standing on a soap box yelling about your latest products or services “being social”? No! Yet that’s exactly what most companies do on their social media accounts. What you should be doing instead is being helpful, getting involved in conversations and solving people’s problems.
  • Become the authority for information or news on your topic. Seek out and write for relevant publications that may reach your target audience. A good way to do this is to look on websites like SourceBottle for journalists and bloggers that are seeking sources for their articles. Get in contact when they’re looking for something that you can help with, and you’ll often end up in a magazine, newspaper or on a website appearing as the expert on a certain topic, with a link to your website.
  • One of the best ways to get extra exposure and PR is to network with other people in the industry, and with opinion leaders. Do the groundwork and build up these relationships and it will pay off in the longer term. If you need help with networking, I’d highly suggest reading Never Eat Alone by Keith Ferrazzi.
  • Make the most of your existing customers and website traffic by getting them to sign up to regular e-mail newsletters. Once a month or quarter may be enough, depending on your website. Don’t send out updates just for the sake of it. Offer something interesting, insightful, newsworthy and/or funny. This will keep people coming back to your website and keep your brand front-of-mind.
  • Find relevant blogs and comment on them. You’re not commenting for the power of the backlinks, but once again to help build your name as an expert and someone helpful. Be sure to use your name (not your company name) as this will make it much easier for people to relate to you, and you’ll come across as much more genuine and approachable.
  • Go the extra mile for your customers. Word of mouth always has been (and still is) one of the most powerful forms of advertising you can get. Your customers will become advocates for your company (and website)!
  • Branding is super important. Make sure your brand is consistent and easily recalled by customers. A nice clean website design is also important, as bad design can result in visitors clicking the back button straight away. Come up with a great tagline or business name and it will stick in people’s minds much longer. Guess who they’ll think of when they need the product or service that you provide?

These are just a few ideas, and none of them are new. What is important is that while everyone talks about doing these things, hardly anyone actually follows through! The end result of all these actions will be more direct traffic for your website, more income for your business and, ironically enough, better search rankings! All of these points will either directly or indirectly influence your search rankings. So how about spending less time on building crappy links, and more time actually working for your customers?


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