Google has long been working toward making its search engine something like the computer from Star Trek. Actually this is truer than you may think and you can read all about it and the potential privacy pitfalls which are already surrounding the Amazon Echo in this article. Part of Google’s attempt to approach the artificially intelligent assistant can be seen in how its search engine evolves over time. In the past if you Googled “weather” you would get the history of meteorology and not the simple weather report, which is likely what you intended. Google figured this out a while ago. Now, it can even coordinate a specific weather report without even being asked for wherever you happen to be just by knowing your phone’s GPS location.
The way that users interact with the Google search engine is more important for digital marketers than ever. In the world of Pay Per Click or PPC advertising, search engine advertising is the most popular form found on the web. Those are the ads that display at the top of the search engine results marked “AD” that you usually just scroll past to get the actual results to your search query. Just last year, Google changed the SERP (Search Engine Results Page) to display those ads differently. Previously local Pay Per Click (PPC) ads were displayed as a “7 pack” at the top of the SERP and more paid ads appeared on a sidebar. The sidebar has been removed and the “7 pack” of local ads has been replaced with a “3 pack” specifically for local ads. Non-local “highly commercial queries” will display a “4-pack” of ads.
There has been a large amount of research going into studying how traffic finds its way to your business’ website. The results have been very consistent in showing that the click through rate (CTR) for a clear majority of the traffic derived from the SERP is from users who are using informational search terms. “Local weather report” would be an informational search term for example. So, informational search terms can be users who are searching keywords that for information about something and not directly interested in making a commercial transaction. Based on research from Brightedge, these informational searchers make up 50% of the traffic that comes to your website. Users who use transactional search terms make up an additional 10%. Either way more than half of the traffic that visits your website is from a search engine listing.
A user who is running a search using informational search terms may not be directly intending to make a purchase but very possibly could become a conversion after arriving. Someone searching for “most popular Caribbean islands” is using informational search terms as far as Google is concerned and is part of half of the traffic that arrives at your Caribbean vacation website, for example. Since you are looking to sell Caribbean vacations, that would be advantageous for you. Since most traffic comes from users who searched using non-transactional search terms the trending strategy is to align your digital marketing campaign to work toward finding them.
Brightedge research also shows that when a user performs a search using keywords that indicate transactional intent it is six times more likely that the “4 pack” of paid ads will display than all other searches. But those PPC ads will generally only draw in that small 10% of traffic out of the total 60% you receive from search engines. And if you were running a search using informational intent, chances are you will not be interested in the paid ads at all. Digital marketers have realized this for some time and now there is plenty of hard data to support this belief. This is where aligning organic with paid advertising is becoming an advantageous and even essential strategy for digital marketing.