Organic Decline Part 3: Organic Search Results Have Visually Fallen

The increased amount of ad space and additional paid search functionality features have done more than expand options for advertisers; they have physically moved the organic search results further down the page.


google-serp-changes-2016 The change in Google search engine results from January 2013 to May 2016. The red square highlights the organic listings that are visible on the first page. The yellow line represents the standard page cut off point for the average desktop browser size. The May 2016 result is the current format which shows over half of the consumers above the fold screen estate controlled by paid search advertisements.

In 2016, when a searcher types in a high volume query, i.e. “car dealer near me,” they have the potential to only see paid search results on more than 50% of their desktop screen, and 100% of their mobile screen.

The organic push further down the SERP has caused consumers to react to the information that is presented to them first, which has shifted more and more toward paid placements. The data for this trend has come into focus in the 2016 Q1 Merkle Digital Marketing Report, which shows a first-ever win for paid search over organic search in the share of mobile site visits. (“Q1 2016 Digital Marketing Report”, p. 21)

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Organic Decline Part 2: Increased Effort for Google SERP Monetization

One of the most influential pieces in the battle of paid versus organic is the increased effort for search engine results page (SERP) monetization by Google and other competing search engines. This monetization is led by enhanced perception of ad nativity, increased ad space on SERP, new paid search placements across Google products, and the decline in viewable organic results.

Digital advertising disclosures have been an issue with Google and numerous other online ad markets for a long time. In 2002, the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) issued a response to a complaint that numerous web companies offer advertisements “without clear and conspicuous disclosure that the ads are ads,” and that this “concealment may mislead search engine users to believe that search results are based on relevancy alone, not marketing ploys.”

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Better Together: How To Best Pair Google AdWords and Analytics

While both Google Analytics and AdWords give you a plethora of reporting capabilities and insights that you can use to optimize your campaigns and website, it’s even better when you pair the already stellar tools. Link up your accounts and optimize them for more insight on your bidding strategy, campaign performance, and more. Here are some quick tips to get you started; for more information, check out Google’s handy guides on sharing metrics and analyzing your performance.


Linking Analytics and AdWords

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Better Your Ads With Sitelinks & The New Tracking Feature in Google Analytics

Google has said that sitelinks are believed to boost the average click through rate on an ad by 10 – 20% (+20 – 50% when it is a branded search). If you are running paid advertising, hopefully you are taking advantage of these sitelinks. Consider them just as important as anything else – URL, title, and the description.

Ensure that you’re linking to the most important or frequently viewed pages that your customers visit. Even if the CTR is low, you may still find that these pages are very useful for your customers; for example, your Hours & Directions page.


Choose at least six sitelinks for desktop and four sitelinks for mobile. Sitelinks allow 25 characters for the link text alone; however, studies have shown that shorter sitelinks seem to perform better. Try to keep your link text at 18 – 20 characters for desktop and 12 – 15 characters for mobile.

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Measuring And Tracking Key SEO Metrics For Success

Measuring And Tracking Key SEO Metrics For Success

If you’re not sure if your SEO strategy is headed in the right direction, you’re probably not measuring your data correctly. It’s hard to improve on something you can’t measure, which is why measurement is crucial for SEO success. You might have a lot of information and data to show, but without the right data collection setup and management tools, creating a road map for success can be difficult. Here’s our list of the most critical SEO metrics you should be tracking:

  1. Keyword Rankings

It’s no secret that websites on the first page of Google receive more traffic, clicks, and conversions. Keyword rankings are some of the most important metrics to track as they allow you to structure your SEO strategy according to the most relevant search terms. By using Google Keyword Planner you can research what keywords are being searched most in your area that are relevant to your business. From there, you can check your rankings for those keywords to determine which are the most valuable to rank for. Work those high-traffic driving keywords into your SEO strategy to help improve your rankings on those terms.

Be sure to use a keyword tracking tool to discover keyword trends that are relevant to your business and take it a step further and research Google Trends. Over time, you will be able to an SEO strategy with keywords that provide the most benefit to your website.

  1. Attribution

There are so many different steps along the path to purchase that it’s not always easy to determine which source gets the credit. Some businesses give the last click all the credit while other’s attribute conversions to the first click.  Whether you decide to give credit to the first click, last click, or if you choose a complex attribution model giving credit to several touch points; having a proper attribution model is essential.

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Keyword Research Tools, Tricks And Tips

Google sure does like to keep marketers on their toes with its constant algorithm updates. Luckily keyword research has remained consistent throughout the years. Although the importance of keyword research has stayed the same, how it is done hasn’t. In our experience, being found in organic search is one of the most profitable means of getting more traffic to your website. Implementing strategic keyword research is your best bet at achieving that smashing organic presence.

So how do you choose the right keywords with thousands of options to choose from? Here are some helpful tools, tricks and tips to help you research and find useful keywords for your SEO strategy.Keyword Research Tools, Tricks And Tips

Relevancy Is Key

TIP: Know your business’ goals.

First things first; how well do you know your business and your customers? Understanding your business’s purpose and goals is imperative to your keyword research. Relevance is the key factor that determines how successful your keyword strategy is. Not only should your keywords be relevant to your business, but they should also be of interest to your target audience. Specifying your keywords to your business will eliminate the chances of attracting a generic audience that may be looking for products and services you don’t offer.

Use Geo-Location

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Why Did My Website Traffic Decline?


Do you see traffic declines from organic or paid search in Google Analytics? Opportunity Max is here to give you insights on what to look for if you start seeing traffic declines. Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as picking up the phone and asking Google why your traffic or rankings have decreased. It could be a simple finding, or it could take a lot of research and time to find out what the cause is.

  1. Evaluate Google Search Landscape Changes

We’ve been seeing quite a few landscape changes within the last few years, and these high-impact changes to the search engine result pages can have an effect visibility and traffic.

Google’s most recent update will now show four paid search ads for particular search queries, which will push organic results further “below the fold.” This landscape change has also done away with ads on the right-hand side of search results. We will have more to come on this update and the effect it has had.

Not so long ago, Google started showing three paid ads for mobile search, which effectively eliminated organic results from showing “above the fold” on mobile devices. For some brands, a decline in mobile traffic occurred.

Last year, Google also made a change to how many local search results it displayed. Google now shows three businesses, compared to the previous seven business lights. Find out more on The Google Snack Pack update today.

The changes made to Google’s search landscape can have an enormous impact on traffic and where your business is showing up on the first page.

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Metrics to Measure Within the Customer Purchase Funnel

Marketers spend hours analyzing data and trying to tell a story about how that data affects the bottom line. Often, one can get lost in the data and have a report of charts and graphs that says nothing to the client. Reporting on dozens and dozens of site metrics can cause confusion amongst those paying the bill, and can leave them wondering if their marketing dollar is helping them sell cars.


A dealer’s goal is to sell cars. Ideally, more than the previous month or year and at a cheaper cost per unit. A consumer’s goal is to find the vehicle the need or want, find a dealership with that vehicle, and buy that car at for the best deal possible. So let’s take those two goals to decide what metrics a marketer should focus and report on.

Most marketers work to understand the emotional or functional needs of consumers at each stage in the journey, which can help direct your creative and message across media channels and screens. Let’s use that same mindset to break out the data that are created because of those steps.

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Paid Search How-To: Using Segments and Widgets to Filter Unique Campaign Traffic

Reporting on Paid Traffic in Google Analytics can be a bit tricky. With many dealerships having multiple paid search vendors, ranging from Tier 1 brand level down to Tier 3 dealer level, it can be difficult to parse out what traffic is truly yours in Google Analytics.

Rather than being confined to the “AdWords” tab under “Acquisition,” many digital marketing analysts have come up with unique segments and widgets to view valuable paid website traffic data in other sections of Google Analytics.

One of the easiest ways is to accomplish this is by adding a unique string of text to all AdWords Accounts and Campaigns. For the following example, I have used “OppMax.” Using the filter set-up below, we can all but guarantee the traffic that will be filtered using the segment is from our paid traffic campaigns. Of course, we could be extra safe and add a more unique identifier, like “OppMax19648xyBT,” but that might not be necessary.

Take a look at the process on how to add this filter style to widgets and segments. It is always important to compare numbers once the segment is complete to make sure data is being filtered accurately.

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