Being Visible Online - Without Page One, Position One


Search has changed a lot over the last few years – and 2013 was no exception.

With the numerous Panda and Penguin algorithm updates, the Hummingbird algorithm, the move towards encrypted search and the evolution of the knowledge graph, capturing the volume of traffic that comes from prime page real estate in organic search has become more difficult – or has it?

One thing that has become more apparent is that being at page one, position one of organic results for a handful of keywords is no longer the only thing to consider when planning a digital marketing strategy. Back in July, it was revealed that some Google searches only display 13% organic results, so while it’s great to be visible for high traffic terms relevant to your business – perhaps you are missing out by not considering all the other verticals that now make up search engine results?

With many businesses losing visibility and turning to AdWords after being impacted by algorithm updates, as well as the move back in June to the paid version of Google Shopping,  Google had a huge increase in revenue through paid advertising during 2013 – with an increase of 28% for paid ad clicks during Q3. While PPC is an option, some businesses simply cannot afford the high cost per click on terms associated with their industry, and smaller e-commerce sites are suffering now that Google Shopping has moved to a commercial model.

In addition to this, Google have been testing how paid ads appear in results with a move towards paid results looking far more subtle – and have also been offering their own price comparison service through ‘sponsored’ results on insurance terms and hotels (which appear below the top paid ads) resulting in organic results being pushed even further down the page. If a user searches for flights and clicks this tab – you may as well forget about there being any organic results altogether!


If you can’t beat them, should you join them?

As well as all the different search verticals to contend with, bigger brands are beginning to dominate search results – and with the increase in results for price comparison sites such as and huge e-commerce sites like Amazon and eBay – could there be any benefit in the ‘if you can’t beat them – join them’ approach?

While traditionally SEO has been all about getting your business top of the page, broadening your horizons and considering other ways of driving traffic, and revenue to your site is becoming ever more important. Putting all of your eggs in one basket is becoming a far less viable option.

As an example, imagine you run a small B&B in Colchester. A search for “B&B Colchester” returns results that appear like this:

Other than the paid and local listings, there is not a single independent B&B website listed above the fold.

If you were a user who isn’t sure where is best to stay for their budget – which result would you choose? One of the top three results? Or perhaps you’d take a punt on the listing with the star rating or price displayed?

A user could visit each of the paid and local results – or they could opt for one of the top three results from Trip Advisor, Top Rooms or Bed and Breakfast Searcher - all of which provide a huge choice of B&B’s to choose from; as well reviews and snazzy filtering options that you just won’t get from organic results as soon as you hit the site.

Users are getting way more savvy when searching – while some will opt for a brand they know (like Premier Inn or Travelodge), those who are seeking something a bit different may overlook your establishment if you aren’t visible.


So, what steps can you take to embrace these changes?


Expand your reach through other websites if your organic visibility isn’t great.

There is no reason that you can’t invest in writing great content for these listings, exactly as you would on your own website. Many sites will provide assistance in getting your business or product listed on their site, and while a small percentage of the sale price will be taken by sites like Amazon and eBay, this could still be a better option than investing money into Google’s offering of Product Listing Ads – which can end up lumping your product in with a whole load of other listings advertised at the same price as shown in the example below. This means that your chances of being visible for competitively priced products is lessened – though you can increase your chances of being seen by increasing bids on high margin products and by maintaining a well optimised data feed.


Make sure that you are visible through as many channels and verticals as possible.

An optimised Google+ local page – especially one which shows reviews – is a great way to improve CTR (Click Through Rate). Linking your site to a Google+ page and getting it verified also increases the chances of your brand getting a snazzy knowledge graph listing to appear in place of paid ads (useful if competitors are bidding on your brand terms in PPC)!


Don’t be put off with the myth that AdWords can be expensive

After all, it has easy to measure ROI (Return on Investment), is incredibly flexible, and has a number of eye-catching features that make them stand out against other results. Even investing a small amount of money can yield great results when done right. AdWords is only expensive if you’re not getting a return on your investment!

Build your brand

While you may only be a small business, there is no reason not to focus on building brand awareness. Making sure that your site is well maintained and produces fresh and informative content is a great way to engage with your customers.

Be sociable

By engaging with users through social media, you can expand your reach, and build your brand – all without worrying about page one, position one. With 32% of brands being discovered through social media in 2012 – you’d be crazy not to invest time in social media.

Remember the Basics

Performing regular site maintenance helps to keep your website in check. Utilise Google Webmaster Tools on a regular basis to identify any issues that may be hindering visibility.


Check Google Analytics frequently to identify which traffic sources and referrals are having the biggest impact. Check which content (both on and off page) has the best engagement metrics to help understand where your time is best spent, and the types of content/sites that make a difference to your digital marketing strategy as a whole.

Test and Optimise

Getting traffic to your site is great, but ultimately, it’s just vanity if all you focus on is the number of visitors that get to your site. What they do when they get there is what counts. CRO (Conversion Rate Optimisation) or UX (User Experience Testing) provides valuable insight into how website users behave within your site, which leads to you getting the data you need to make decisions that make your website perform better.


For more information on how to get the best from your digital marketing in 2014, get in touch with a member of the High Position team today!


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