There’s some good writeups following this, but one of the parts I found particularly interesting was the examples of how brands perform using search.
Marks & Spencer
One of Avinahs’s examples included an M&S paid search ad, where the landing page for a query on “Marks and Spencer underwear” produced a general Valentines Day landing page – no sign of a relevant product in sight! Here’s the landing page I now see for a query on the same term, the Valentines Day page has been replaced:
“They Came, They Puked, They Left” is how Avinash Kaushik described website’s with a high bounce rate, because users aren’t finding what they are looking for, so they very quickly leave. This is very true in the M&S example, where users are dumped onto the homepage, relying on users navigating to find what they want – instead of directing them straight to it.
Avinash’s first example showed how despite having a very well-known and established brand, HMV appeared to be relying on this too heavily in the organic search listings. Obviously brand visibility is very important in the search engines, especially when your brand is as strong as HMV, but long-tail is where the real value of traffic comes from. Rather than attracting traffic at the head of the tail, it’s generally the longer-tail and specific queries which generate the bulk of a site’s traffic. Avinash calls these visitors “impression virgins”, these are users who are unlikely to have visited the site before and are attracted by a specific or unique keyword query.
The examples given were queries for branded terms, where HMV were almost always listed as both organic and paid search results. And when performing a product query with the brand name added to this, HMV still dominated these listings – see the example below for “Up DVD HMV“:
Yet when searching for more competitive queries, where the user still has the intent to buy – but they don’t have a preference of where from – HMV aren’t doing enough to attract these first time visitors/buyers into the site. Queries for a range of competitive product queries all failed to display HMV within Google’s top 10 organic listings – here’s an example of a query for the very popular query “Up DVD“:
You may notice that a paid search ad is appearing on the right-hand-side, but in the same way as M&S, this points users straight towards the homepage instead of taking them to the actual product. This has possibly been triggered from a “DVD” phrase matched AdWords keyword, as opposed to the individual product term producing the ad, explaining why a general ad description and landing page has been displayed. Same for the M&S ad being triggered from a “Marks and Spencer” phrase, instead of an underwear term.
Another example, although this time for a US site, was a query for “wireless printer” which produced PPC ads for general printers. The ones who actually did sell wireless printers only went as far as sending users to a general printer category page – instead of directing them towards the actual product they searched for. Avinash highlighted that this was a $500+ product – so they really need to be doing everything they can to clinch a sale, rather than hoping they find what they want by navigating and then complete a purchase.
So this goes to prove how important it is to maximise the value from the traffic you are currently generating. An increase in traffic isn’t always the answer, a few small changes in all of these cases is likely to see a big improvement in conversion rates and overall sales figures.