Advanced Web Ranking has released a study showing fresh data on the click-through-rate from Google’s organic search results. The data was taken from Google Webmaster Tools Search Queries reports from large accounts back in July 2014.

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On average, 71.33% of searches resulted in a page one Google organic click. Page two and three get only 5.59% of the clicks. On the first page alone, the first 5 results account for 67.60% of all the clicks and the results from 6 to 10 account for only 3.73%.

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Here is a chart showing the click through rate by exact position:

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The study was first presented at SMX East by Philip Petrescu of Caphyon, who has written a more detailed write-up on our Search Engine Land sister site:

The full details of the study break down desktop versus mobile click-through rates, branded versus non branded search queries, and more. You can download the full study as a PDF over here.

After significantly scaling back Authorship in June by dropping author photos from search, Google’s John Mueller finally announced in a Google+ post on August 28 that all authorship functionality would soon come to an end, including the tracking of any rel=authorship markup data.

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Authorship, which was started as an experiment by Google three years ago to connect authors with their content, now joins the ranks of the dozens of other discontinued products and services that have been sunset by the company over the years.

So what happened? According to Google, and their ruthless internal testing metrics, Authorship failed for three major reasons:

  1. Low Adoption Rate: Even after three years, Authorship was not widely embraced by influencers, SEOs and the regular Google user. The major complaint was that it was “too difficult.” Google attempted, starting in 2012, to help “spur” the adoption of authorship results by implementing auto-attribution but this resulted in many instances of incorrect attribution, some quite hilarious.
  2. Low Value to Users: According to Google’s internal testing, authorship snippets reported no discernible increase in CTR over other results on the page. This caused a lot of consternation in the SEO community since many believed just the opposite: results with profile pics were getting clicked more in relation to non-authored results.
  3. Dilution of Mobile Experience: Google believed that authorship snippets took away from their goal to optimize for the mobile user. Mobile devices have both limited bandwidth and screen size making it difficult to display full authorship snippets. And even with Google, there exists processing limits that require prioritization of internal resources.

Bottom line: Google has always been RELENTLESS about testing search quality. And with Authorship, at least at this point in time, the value is not there for Google to devote the resources necessary to keep it going.That being said, as of this writing, Google Authorship snippets are still fully viewable when logged-in to Google+ personalized search.

If you have claimed authorship or had placed a lot of resources in advising your clients to set up Authorship markups we certainly DO NOT advise you remove them. It’s always possible that Google circles back around to authorship in the future. Further, it’s never a bad idea to provide Google every possible signal they can to determine identity and authority, beyond just simple bylines.

AdWords Callout Extensions How-To: Highlight Offers About Products and Services in Your Ads.

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The goal of Callouts is to show valuable information to potential customers before they click your ad. Callouts will also be a factor in Ad Rank. Google suggests using them to draw attention to important product details, or highlight what makes your business different from your competitors.

Callout extensions let you add additional text that shows with your Google search ads, highlighting specific information about your products and services. You can add anything, within their guidelines, to your ads, to boost and supplement your ad within the search results.

Below is an example of what it may look like in the search results:

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Callout Text Requirements

Callout Text Length: The text for each callout must be 25 characters or fewer. For languages that use double-width characters (like Chinese, Japanese, and Korean), the link text must be 12 characters or fewer.

Callout Text Duplication: The duplication or repetition of callout text with other callouts, ad text, or sitelink text within the same ad group, campaign, or at the account-level is not allowed. Examples of text use that is considered duplication/repetition:

  • Your ad text and ad group, campaign, or account-level callouts include the text “Free shipping.”
  • You duplicate one callout at the account level: a) 24/7 customer support b) 24/7 Customer Support.
  • No keyword insertion: You can’t use the keyword insertion feature within your callout text.

Create your First Callout

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This is Similar to Sitelinks, Without Needing Links! It doesn’t cost anything extra to add callouts to your ads; you’ll still pay simply for costs per click.

All callout extensions are created within the ad extensions tab in the View: Callout extensions drop-down menu option. There, you can edit existing callouts or create new ones. Simply add the new callout text, choose your device and scheduling preferences, and hit save.

Callout Extension Tips & Tricks

  • Callout extensions are available only for “Search Network Only” and “Search Network with Display Select” campaigns.
  • You are not allowed to duplicate text in callouts
  • Google will generally show your highest performing and most useful combination of extensions and formats,
  • You cannot use dynamic keyword insertion
  • Callout text and the content the ad points to must be family-safe and cannot contain adult content.
  • You can’t use gimmicky symbols or emoticons in callouts.
  • Keep callout text short
  • Use sentence case

Searchmetrics just released their annual report: Rank Correlations And Ranking Factors 2014 Google U.S. According to Searchmetric

“This white paper deals with the definition and evaluation of factors that have a high rank correlation-coefficient with organic search results, and acts as a deeper analysis of search engine algorithms.”

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Download the PDF of the report here.

Here is a short look at the top ranking factors included in this 83 page document:

  • High quality, relevant content is key! So be sure you’re killing off any thin content and working to replace it with something great.
  • Technical site attributes: Robust site architecture with an optimal internal linking structure, short loading times and presence of meta tags.
  • Backlinks: The quantity and quality of backlinks remains crucial with a heavy trend toward natural link building and a diversified anchor text profile!
  • Social signals: There was a slight decrease in importance of social signals, but they still remain vital to top rankings.
  • User signals: For the first time, user signals were measured and as expected there is a relation between rankings and higher click-through rates, lower bounce rates and a high time-on-site.

Brand factor: There is special consideration for brands (surprise, surprise). In response, you need to look at what you can do to turn your business into a brand within your niche.

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After they’d crunched all of this data and released their report, Searchmetrics came to the same conclusion that we’ve been laying down and explaining for years. Quality content will always win out and approaching your entire SEO campaign with the idea of natural link building and a solid user experience is the only way to be successful long term. Here’s how they put it.

“There are areas where Google seems to have found a good balance. However, there are many more areas where constant revision and development of features is taking place, with the treatment of Brands constantly maturing. The real focus, however, is still page content, where relevance is key. In all areas, the trend towards a natural structure is clear. Just as the quality of the link profile is better when designed, the overall content structure is better when it is easily understood and holistic.

SEO is becoming more and more natural, with the focus moving towards Search Experience Optimization (= the user) in the future, and with the technical aspects of site optimization remaining crucial.”

We highly recommend that you take the time to read through this comprehensive report.

Seventy percent of all mobile searchers have called a business directly from search ads. AdWords click-to-call ads, call metrics, and calls as conversions help you connect with these customers and gain insight about those calls. However, many customers also call your business after clicking through a Google ad and learning more about the products and services you offer on your website. That’s why Google has launched what’s likely to become a popular new feature for many AdWords advertisers. Website call conversions allow advertisers to track calls that occur after a user arrives on a web site from an ad click.

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Clicks that Lead to Calls Let’s say your Google search ads send people to your website where they research and learn more about your business. Website call conversions dynamically inserts a Google forwarding number on your website that measures the calls made by these customers. Whether they click on the number or dial it directly from their phone, you can attribute the call conversion and conversion value back to the keyword and ad that drove the customer.

 

How Does it Work?

To start measuring these website calls, place the snippet of code on your desktop or mobile website and a unique Google forwarding number will be generated for each AdWords ad click. These numbers will continue to display for up to 90 days to capture future call conversions. To ensure this experience is seamless, you can customize the look and feel of these numbers to match your website, including: color, font, and size.

 

Maximize Call Value and Volume

With website call conversions, you can understand which keywords and ads are driving the most phone calls from your website and which are resulting in more valuable calls. You can also assign different values to calls originating from different pages of your website.

You can also automatically optimize your keyword bids to drive more calls or more valuable calls by using Target CPA or Target ROAS respectively. These flexible bid strategies factor in signals like device, location, and time of day to make auction-time bid adjustments that maximize website call conversions and conversion value respectively, while reaching your business goals.

Website call conversions can be used in conjunction with other call tracking solutions as well as with AdWords click-to-call. Note that you won’t be able to see whether an actual sale or transaction occurred by using this solution in AdWords.

Google announced yesterday that they are now using SSL/HTTPS as a ranking signal in their Google search algorithm. According to Google, as of now it’s only a very lightweight signal — affecting less than 1% of global queries, and carrying less weight than other signals such as high-quality content. But over time, Google might decide to strengthen it, and encourage all website owners to switch from HTTP to HTTPS to keep everyone safe on the web.

Earlier this year, in March, Matt Cutts gave a hint that he’d like HTTPS to be a ranking signal. So, this was likely to be implemented soon.

So, what about sites that already have SSL implemented on their checkout pages? Is that enough?

The answer is, no, you need to still do something more. This ranking boost is applied to only the pages that have SSL on them. Typically, SSL is only on those checkout pages and not on your product pages, content / landing pages, etc. So you need to make your whole domain name, all the URLs, all the files, all the includes, all of it, go over HTTPS.

This obviously will take some time; you need to do rigorous testing, to make sure the HTTPS certificate doesn’t show errors to your users. There can be images, videos, and third-party includes that need to be adapted on the pages to ensure that it doesn’t give the user a security warning.

Are there any negative SEO effects of converting to SSL?

According to Google, if you switch your site over properly, there is no downside. Google has said before there was an SSL boost that there is no ranking change in a negative way for going SSL.

But the key is you need to do it right. Google gave this advice:

  1. Decide the kind of certificate you need: single, multi-domain, or wildcard certificate
  2. Use 2048-bit key certificates
  3. Use relative URLs for resources that reside on the same secure domain
  4. Use protocol relative URLs for all other domains
  5. Check out our Site move article for more guidelines on how to change your website’s address
  6. Don’t block your HTTPS site from crawling using robots.txt
  7. Allow indexing of your pages by search engines where possible. Avoid the noindex robots meta tag.

Google also recommends you use Qualys Lab tool to test your SSL certificates and pages.

Meanwhile, here are some reactions from the Webmaster Community.

“And a lot of cash for certificate authorities. This’ll be another craze like site speed. It’s manipulation of the webmaster community, and I don’t believe it’s fair to judge every site based on HTTP vs. HTTPS. People will be buying certificates just because it might help a teeny-tiny bit, when in fact their site does not warrant a secure connection.”

“My site is informative only, no login or personal/sensitive information, so why the hell do I need to use SSL?”

“This will add extra costs for certificates and administration, which will hinder small business owners.”

“what about reduced page speed from extra payload?”

John Mueller of Google is answering questions about this on Google+. Google also added a new resource this morning on securing your site.

Nowadays, people perform multiple searches online whether its planning a trip or shopping for a TV. Sitelinks have helped to connect people to the content they’re looking for by linking to specific pages on your websites directly from your ad, with just a single click.

Introducing Dynamic Sitelinks: These are automatically generated and appear below your ad text. They cost nothing if they’re clicked and give advertisers more space on the SERP, enabling users to go straight into specific pages on your site from the ad, as shown below.

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How Dynamic Sitelinks Work?

When people are searching on Google to complete a task, like buying a car or planning a trip, they might perform several searches and click multiple search results. Based on this activity, AdWords can determine which pages on your site are highly relevant to their current search. With dynamic sitelinks, we’ll annotate your ads with a link to those pages.

Dynamic sitelinks can appear on your ads on desktop computers, tablets, and mobile devices with full Internet browsers.

Here’s what an ad might look like with a dynamic sitelink.

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Clicks on dynamic sitelinks are free, but you’ll still be charged for clicks on the headline of your ad and other ad extensions. And while they typically boost the average performance of an ad, advertisers always have the option to disable.

Sitelinks enhance this experience by increasing the relevance of your ads and the relevance of the user experience you deliver after the click.

Remember that a higher quality score results in higher ad rankings and lower costs per click.

As part of Bing’s partnership with Twitter, it is adding some new search features in order to help searchers more easily find relevant information on the social media platform.

The search works like an algorithm, using a variety of signals including retweets, freshness, verified status, and tweet quality, in order to display relevant tweets in the search results. This is a lot more intuitive than Twitter’s own search, where everything is time-based, although there is the option to search for “top” or “all” tweets, as well as display the search results based on only those you follow and those near you.

In Bing, when you search for a hashtag, it will display relevant tweets right in the search results with a small Twitter icon next to it. The results will show the tweet, who tweeted it, and how long ago it was tweeted, along with any relevant media included in the tweet, such as a link to a video with a small accompanying image.

You can also now search for people via their Twitter handle – do a search for @name and it will bring up relevant Twitter accounts. It does appear that the Twitter accounts must be either verified or have a high number of followers in order to be displayed in the drop-down when the user is searching for a username with the @.

When searching for a handle, Bing will also display whether the user is verified or not, which can help those who are trying to find a well-known person’s Twitter account, especially for those that have multiple fan Twitter accounts or parody accounts.

Bing is also now including popular content tweeted about a particular person in its search results, showing the content that is most-shared under a “Tweeted About” section in the results. The new Twitter search on Bing is now active in the U.S.

Google Shopping campaigns offer an intuitive way to advertise your products. If you haven’t heard, Shopping campaigns will completely replace PLAs in August. As a result, it is important that you are both prepared to transition as well as manage the new campaigns. Many of the basics principles will remain as they were. Bid changes and product segmentation will make up a bulk of your optimization strategy.

New Metrics to Watch

Two big metrics were added to Google Shopping from the start. These include both benchmark CTR and benchmark CPC.

The two benchmarks provide reference numbers for your competitiveness in Shopping ads. The CPC shows the average price your competition is paying. The CTR offers a similar metric, showing how engaging other advertisers’ ads are.

Making Use of New Metrics

If your CTR is much lower than the baseline you should take the opportunity to review your shopping feed. Anything from images to product descriptions to product categorization could be holding performance back. Through feed optimization you should be able to bring the CTR back up. Optimizing the feed will not only create more compelling listings, but ensure that your ads are showing for the right queries.

Another scenario is a low impression share, even at a higher than average bid. If this is the case, there may be a few advertisers with bids way above the benchmark. Using this metric you know that performance is great at its current level, but the only limitation is exposure. You can then proceed to gradually bump up bids until you find the right performance point.

Analyzing Your Products

Now that data is stored at the product level, you can easily tie metrics back to specific IDs or categories. This makes it simple to see which products are driving conversions and revenue and which are struggling.

To see these metrics, go to the dimension tab of your campaign or ad group. Under the “View” menu you’ll see a tab for “Shopping.” The options will let you analyze from the site categories such as product type, brand, item ID and more.

If you aren’t currently segmenting your products beyond brand or type, this could be a great opportunity to find top convertors to break out into new product groups. Using this strategy you can focus your bids, negative keywords, and benchmarks more specifically to these higher converters, rather than an aggregate of products.

As anything in paid search, your individual strategies and tactics will change from account to account. Hopefully this overview gives you a bit of a head start in the mindset you can use to optimize your own shopping campaigns.

For a while now, author’s photos have shown up next to their work in Google’s search results. When photos were first added to search results, click-through rates increased for links with photos next to them. However, Google has now decided to do away with a couple of Authorships key features.

John Mueller, a Webmaster Trends Analyst at Google, wrote on his Google+ page that search engine giant is aiming to “clean up” and create “more consistent design across devices” with the new update. Mueller also wrote that during Google’s tests of the cleaner design, click-through rates have not been significantly impacted by the elimination of author photos.

Before the Change:

After the Change:

The answer to this question is yes! According to Google, users are 10x more likely to interact with a brand through Engagement ads vs. a standard display ad. Since advertisers are only charged when an engagement takes place, there is now true cost accountability over digital branding efforts.

John come back a few times to answer questions and made this statement.

“This change only affects how authorship is shown in search (we continue to process & use authorship markup).”

This change was just to clear the clutter from mobile search results and should do nothing to deter you from continuing to add authorship markups to your content. The best way to do well in search going forward (with regard to authorship) is to set it up correctly and build up your author authority.

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