Maximizing Conversion Potential of Search
Google accounts for over 90% of all search around the globe making it the most dominant search platform in nearly every country in the world (China, Russia and Japan being a few notables with other search engines). If you want to generate sales online, or even if you’re growing business offline, a presence on Google SERPs is a necessity.
Find more statistics at Statista
This is not ground breaking news.
Therefore, an attempt at maximizing conversions on search doesn’t exist without focusing on Google. It doesn’t mean the bus stops there, but rather starts there. This guide is to provide recommendations on how to get the most of search and when you’re there, how to make more of it. This guide is a conversion focused look at search engine visibility.
Dominate Google SERPS:
Step 1 for generating more conversion potential is by dominating the SERPs. This is taking a holistic view of your brand’s SEV and being everywhere for the search terms you need to be. This includes maximizing your company’s organic and paid position on relevant keywords.
In the attempt to maximize search visibility, the goal will be to also have insights into conversions and optimize to KPI’s and conversions to focus on generating something for your business you can cash in with and not just visibility.
Let’s focus on 3 areas here for dominating SERPs with conversions in mind:
- Standard Organic Listings
- Paid Search Advertising
- Local Listings
These 3 areas cover the most significant areas of a SERP and as long as you’re posting images and videos, those will begin to index as well.
In order to best understand the way the three of these are converting, it’s best to make sure that we compartmentalize the tracking of each of these to start. Your standard organic listing performance shows through Search Console/Webmaster Tools, Paid Search shows through the Google Ads Platform and Local Listings show predominantly through Google My Business. To begin tracking these more effectively, ensure that your site is claimed through Search Console (preferably at the domain level), then making sure Google Ads is connected with your Analytics and finally using UTM tags on your Google My Business/Local Listings Placements.
Note: We recommend using a UTM suffix like: ?utm_source=gmb&utm_medium=organic or ?utm_source=jan_feed&utm_medium=directories
Separating these out this way will allow for more appropriate tracking once you look into your Google Analytics for more insights.
Maximizing is a competitive game though so when it comes to paid search rather than conversion based optimization, at this point it would be better suited for a Target Impression Share strategy. Target Impression Share dialed in above 75% for Absolute Top of Search Results will allow you to effectively target the dominant amount of impression share on paid search. This might not be the most efficient placement right now, however, it will be one of the more effective strategies to get your brand to dominate the top spot.
Google Ads & The Point Of Diminishing Returns
There is a diminishing point of return in nearly every business investment, every advertising outlet, and so on. A local business can invest heavily in TV advertising to be perceived to “own” TV share of voice. They invest heavily in TV and go through this period of significant increases in return-on-investment early on and use that as the determining factor to continue in the same direction. This strategy eventually needs to be reset, as the efficacy of it begins to reduce.
Google Ads and paid search is no different. A company begins to invest in it, starts to see rising returns and then as they increase the spend, conversion rate begins to dwindle. This is inevitable. The timeline can be drawn out through optimization and expanded targeting, but can not last forever. Similarly, a business or organization can expand towards additional search platforms, like Bing/Microsoft Ads to prolong the diminishing returns.
Push Conversions With Microsoft/Bing Search:
Globally, Microsoft/Bing Search only accounts for about 3% of search, oddly making it the second most popular global search engine. This number doubles when looking more closely at the United States with about 6.5% share of search is reserved for Bing. Most local campaigns have to take into account regional variations of search composition. Regardless though, Bing and Microsoft search are unlikely to compose more than 10% of any single area within the US for search share, yet should a person still include Microsoft Ads in their search presence?
I know that “90%” does not seem very limiting, but it is. It is a finite portion of a single tactic – search. Search advertising is completely dependent on the market that is there. It’s a pull tactic, or an inbound advertising strategy.
Making sure your SEV is maximized on Bing Search expands your reach and is relatively seamless. If you’re already on Google, you can import a Google Ads account to Microsoft Ads, you can import Google My Business to Bing Places and more. There are plenty of easy transitions to be made, but for a business looking to really maximize their Microsoft presence, its best to start with the migration and then building from there.
Starting with importing from Google ads allows you to be more efficient with time, resources and ad copy but also allows you to continue to build as needed. There are intricacies that exist in Microsoft Ads that are different from Google Ads.
It is still important to consider that search does not generate interest though, it helps a business capture it. Expanded targeting, more efficient placement, larger spend and multiple channels helps a business cast a wider net to capture more. Just make sure the wide net is still relevant or else you’re doing everything in spite of the benefits targeted advertising provides.
Search advertising after all is dictated by …. well, searches. You cannot make a search or market size increase purely by operating within search.
Generate Search Demand:
Since search is unable to generate interest on it’s own, advertisers have to look outside of search to generate more interest, that can then be captured with your search presence. Common marketing efforts that generate search traffic include:
- Display Advertising
- Social Media Advertising
- TV Advertising
- OOH Advertising
One of the weaknesses of search advertising is the lack of a visual appeal. The above advertising efforts all benefit from the visual engagement they have with their audience. The visual pulls a person’s attention in and gets them interested. It also supports recall, which generates search.
Placing memorable advertisements in these other areas can support branded and discovery based searches, as well as searches in the middle-ground.
Reminder: The goal (in this instance) is to generate interest, get the user searching and capture them through SERPs. Here are some examples of tracking the generation of search:
Lead with your brand:
Your brand doesn’t sway with the market. Branded search increases and decreases based on its relevance. The more “top of mind” it is with a searcher, the more traffic you’ll receive for branded queries. So, lead with your brand. Make sure it is heavily visible and engaging in your ads.
Advertise With Nonsense Search words:
Not just a literary device to teach kids how to read, utilizing nonsense words in your off-search advertising allows you to understand and capitalize on that when it comes to search. What makes up a “Nonsense Search Word”:
- Push a slogan
- Misspelled Words
- New Acronyms
- Low Volume, Unrelated Searches
Utilizing these types of words in your off-search advertising will help connect the dots easier when it comes to search. As an advertiser, this will give you a better idea of the effect the individual advertising efforts have on generating search over just the growth of the industry search terms at large. It will also position your search strategy in an area that’s easier to stand out in.
Following Through With CRO
Unfortunately, conversions rarely take place directly on search, unless you’re using Google’s Local Service Ads. Even lead forms on Google Ads are notoriously difficult to capture at an effective CPA. That being said, there’s nothing worse than spending all this time to send someone to a website that doesn’t convert.
Optimizing your website will support a better conversion rate. This is looking at optimization beyond search engines. Understanding user flow and making conversion points perform better.
Take a traditional retail brick and mortar perspective. There are millions of dollars spent each year on the psychology of stocking shelves and laying out a store. Getting things in just the right places so that people buy what the store wants them to.
Your website is your store, even if it isn’t ecommerce. Stop looking at it as your storefront where people can just peruse and consider, without taking action. Action needs to be taken and we need to work on making that happen more often!
There are many ways of increasing conversion rate. One of the most obvious is by making the CTA more prominent both in terms of the aesthetic and the actual offer. But there are more items that can be included for a better CRO and here are some of them:
- Strong CTA’s (i.e. Good offers)
- Well Positioned Call To Actions (i.e. Above the fold, center of content, etc.)
- Conversion Funnels
- Gated Content
Additionally, when we look at these particular CTA’s, we’re also considering “triggers”, tracking and testing. The 3 T’s of CTA optimization if you will. Triggers for example include exit-intent popups, video-view CTA’s or scrolling CTA’s, among others.