Improved Organic Search on Horizon for Marketers

When engaging in search marketing, the goal of every merchant is to appear at or near the top of the list on search engine results pages [SERP]. Marketers who want to know if users demonstrate predictable click-​through rate  (CTR) behavior when searching or how much organic results are affected by  keyword use should check out the Behavioral Study published by Slingshot CEO.

This study was based on 6 months of 2011 search behavior and several hundred non-​brand keywords used in the U.S. The client data came from Google Analytics. In addition, this study was limited to organic, not paid search results. Within those constraints, analysts revealed a definite pattern of steep drop-​offs in CTRs as rankings on the results page drops:

  • Position 1: 18.2% (CTR)
  • Position 2: 10.2%
  • Position 3: 7.22%
  • Position 4: 4.81%
  • Position 5: 3.09%

Slingshot CEO analysts pointed out that their CTR curve is lower than numbers reported in some previously published studies. In one case, Enquiro, had focused on B2B activity in its study. And more recently, Optify had based its study on the holiday shopping season of December 2010, a period of time during which users exhibit markedly different search behavior. But it is clearly to a marketer's advantage to appear first on the SERP.

In addition to using exact keywords, marketers can improve their organic search list results significant by employing a long-​trail CTR strategy. Basically, keyword phrases can improve search results when they are used in conjunction with meaningful keywords. In the Slingshot CEO example, marketers who use cars as a keyword can improve their results by also using  phrases such as ‘new cars’, or ‘used cars’ in their content streams. Analysts refer to the enhanced results which stem from this strategy as the ‘halo effect’. While no long-​tail pattern was discernible, the data indicates that the expanded terms can improve CTRs by between 1.17% and 5.8%.

As new kinds of data streams become available to search engines and as search engine providers adjust their algorithms to optimize findings, marketers need to constantly assess and adjust their keywords and phrases to achieve the best possible list positions.

[Source: Mission ImposSERPble. Slingshotseo​.com. June 2011. Web. 2 Sept. 2011] 
Kathy Crosett
Kathy is the Vice President of Research for SalesFuel. She holds a Masters in Business Administration from the University of Vermont and oversees a staff of researchers, writers and content providers for SalesFuel. Previously, she was co-​owner of several small businesses in the health care services sector.