Google has gone through a lot of changes in the last year, and the front page of Search Results has undergone a slow overhaul which has resulted in the top three organic positions ending up lower down for some results and often eclipsed by some much more eye-catching results. The top positions are still pulling in hefty search numbers of course, so there’s no need to throw the toys, but for some of your search phrases it’s highly likely you will need to augment your marketing strategy to ensure you’re in the top portion of the page.
Take this search results page as an example, for a product (in this case we’re going to look at adjusting the marketing for an ecommerce site to increase visibility):
The Adwords we are quite used to seeing take up three spaces at the top left. The likelihood is you already know how to feature in those, and may be already using them or may have decided they are not right for your business (they don’t suit every site). I’m not going to go into this so much, as it’s been around for a while and you should have already explored this option.
Underneath these ads are a row of fairly eye-catching images, and this is one area you can certainly look into. The process of persuading Google to list your images in Image Search is a not a simple one, and starts with keyword-rich relevant alt tags and ends with XML Sitemap Image-Extensions.
Primarily, you need to name your image file with an appropriate name, as Google reads these. So ‘CherokeeScrubTop-Green.jpg’ would work well, and so on. Alt tags then need to be similarly relevant and need to work with your keywords (and potential search terms).
You should ensure images are of a good quality and size (meaning not too small OR large), and that the large version and not a thumbnail are going to be spidered and recognised by Google for your keywords.
Finally, there are options such as image-extensions within XML Sitemaps, as a way of showing Google images that it may otherwise miss.
This is the really important one – it combines the two we’ve already discussed. It’s actually what used to be the initially free Froogle, then renamed to Google Shopping, and this was then converted to a paid shopping system. Ecommerce shops can submit a file listing all their products along with prices, images, shipping, etc, and Google lists them in order to rating, quantity, popularity, price, etc.
The thing you need to be aware of however, is that it works very well. Many browsers don’t realise they are now paid ads, and the combination of immediate prices and images generate a lot of clicks. For the clients that we’ve worked with to run these ads, they’ve been very effective. What’s more, they almost run themselves in Adwords. Of course you need to have some knowledge of how to set up and maintain them, but Google makes a lot of the display choices for you based on your products feed, so all you have to do is keep this regularly updated and relevant. And as with Adwords, you only pay for clicks, which tend to be a lot more targeted, as your customer has already seen the product and decided they like the price. That’s about as hot a lead as you can get.
Many online shops will allow you enter any necessary information and then generate an XML file for Google Shopping (our Mazurka ecommerce software does this) which is the best way to go. You could create one manually, but it would be a lot harder to keep it up to date every time you changed prices.
So check the search phrases you’re interested in, and the phrases you dominate on Google’s first page, and then claim the rest of the page real estate available!