Organic Search Gap Management

Years ago, some of the leading pay per click advertising markets displayed the bids of advertisers publicly and primarily based the ad auctions on bid price.

And a list of advertisers and bids might look like:

  • Advertiser 1: $10.00
  • Advertiser 2: $9.50
  • Advertiser 3: $3.25
  • Advertiser 4: $2.75

Based on this publicly accessible information, marketers created bid gap management software where, in the above example a new advertiser might bid $9.49 to stick the top 2 advertisers with expensive click prices, while only being required to spend $3.26 per click.

Most major ad networks have since hidden bid data and incorporated ad quality measurements which include criteria such as ad clickthrough rate. This rendered most bid gap management tools useless, but the concept of bid gap management can also be applied to the organic search results.

Since unveiling their universal search results, Google has constantly tried to show resluts from vertical databases more frequently. In an interview last November, Marissa Mayer stated: “When we launched [universal search], it was showing in about one in 25 queries. Today, it shows in about 25 percent of queries. And we think there are probably times when those auxiliary [file] formats could actually help, and we aren’t triggering them on our results page. That’s something we need to continue to strive to do.”

Yes, the top few search results get most of the clicks, but integration of the vertical search results can significantly alter click distribution. In the past, Google displayed shopping search results at position #4 for many search queries. Recently, they tested moving it up to position #3, and a friend of mine who had a double listing at #1 and #2 saw this huge increase in traffic

From the results above, I can only presume that as searchers saw the product results at postion #3, they felt that those results were either somewhat irrelevant or that the shopping results were a bit of a barrier which psychologically stated “hey the right result was the site above here.”

If you have a #1 ranking and a second listing that is within striking distance of the top 10, then it is worth pushing that second page harder to get the above type of benefit.

The vertical databases not only alter click distribution on the remaining listings, but also tend to be easy ways to get exposure on broader search queries that you might not have been able to compete for. For one of the more competitive search results that a client’s site ranks for, there are image search results integrated inline. Almost without trying (when compared to how hard it was to rank the regular site in the regular listings) these [image results] were easy to rank for. And then, they were apparently easy for automated blogspot blogs wrapped in AdSense ads to hijack based on hotlinking.

Roughly 1 in 13 Google search results show a local map, and if you look at one of their new beta formats, some of the test maps took up more space than ever. And Google seems to keep testing new beta local ad strategies.

As you see Google test new vertical search locations, view them as additional opportunites to get exposure, but also look at them as potential visual barriers which redirect attention upwards. If the fall off between positions 2 to 3 or 3 to 4 is 20% to 30% then, when you add in a vertical search result the difference between 1 rank might be as much as 100%, depending on if you are above or below those vertical search results.

Opinions expressed in the article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land.

Related Topics: All Things SEO Column | Channel: SEO


About The Author: is the author of SEO Book. He also works with Clientside SEM to help large corporate clients improve their search engine rankings. The 100% Organic column appears Thursdays at Search Engine Land.

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  • RossHudgens

    Thanks for this post Aaron, it always sorta has existed in the back of my mind but I’ve never heard it talked about. As you noted in a previous SEL column, a lot of SEM is saturated by repetitive content, so getting a fresh topic and being aware of something like this is a great thing.


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