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Friday, February 17, 2012

Is larger (PPC) better? Size matters, but... the #G+ strategy

After winding down from what still feels novel but is actually BAU (business as usual) for me today, I read an article which includes this passage:
In testing for the ads, Google mentioned clickthrough rates were significantly higher than the previous 2/3 line sitelinks. One would argue that is hardly surprising givent he[sic] real estate that these new ads take up, and that in itself presents more interesting scenarios to SEO’s[sic] who are already under pressure with many of the changes Google has made to its search results set. Further more[sic] these results bear many similarities to those of the sitelinks already in place within organic search results.
More real estate to PPC which this undoubtedly will mean, should mean yet more traction for PPC results, and less visibility on organic results potentially resulting in the following scenario
- More advertisers using PPC as organic visibility is being throttled
- Competition within both PPC and SEO significantly increasing as the battle for no1 increases significantly organically and the increased competition means CPC etc are going to be significantly tested
- Differentiation between SEO and PPC diminishing further
- Advertisers utilising more personalisation factors to try and influence eyefall where possible
Now, my first reaction was to think "hold on, no matter how much space paid advertisements may encroach upon a search engine results page (SERP), won't most users still ignore them simply because they're ads?"

I would argue that the descriptive text being added to the links in these ad spots are the differentiator, rather than the surface area that the overall ad takes up (e.g. if they'd simply enlarged the font and tinted background, it seems unlikely to me that click-through counts would proportionally increase with SERP real estate). And just because organic results are being squeezed out of the SERP, doesn't mean that users simply wouldn't become accustomed to hunting more diligently for them.
There are points later on in this article that I do agree with - namely that PPC should be carefully targeted, and to extrapolate from the given claims, I infer that paid ads will become increasingly eye-catching, via thumbnails of still and video images, because it's been well established that the eye is drawn to such objects.

Now, in light of the above, let us examine an article about Google+ that clearly demonstrates the potential of how successful corporate presence can immensely impact what its followers see in their Google personalized (search plus your world - or SPYW) search results. Its example is how an H&M fan on G+, upon using Google while logged in to search for information about soccer star David Beckham, is shown significantly more H&M content which concerns Beckham's collaboration with H&M and H&M related content which intersects with Beckham.

The inclusion of branded content "organically", then, is precisely what PPC is striving to achieve with its descriptive texts and relevant links. Success in amassing G+ followers equates to a significant increase in personalized result impressions. Add to this a strong visually oriented content campaign, it seems that Google is providing an irresistible incentive for businesses to not just create G+ presences, but work to become as popular as they can, in order to leverage SPYW.

About Mayo

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Professional: As "Senior Enterprise SEO Strategist" in IBM's Digital Marketing division, I provide consulting and training services for both internal and external clients. Formerly I was involved in Natural Language Processing, software localization, quality assurance and documentation authoring.
Personal: INTJ Nikkei Nisei ex-patriated Canadian who takes photographs and enjoys Baroque through late Classical music. The G+ page shares some of the "best of" photos.