As mentioned by my colleague, Jake Hawkins, Google recently tested a significant new layout for their search results. This new system provided a preview of the target page when the searcher hovered over the link, with the relevant section of the preview highlighted in orange.
Were this interface to be adopted by Google, what are the key things that we should be considering for our current search strategy?
1. Well targeted creative
Google preview brings more choice to the user faster than before, giving a website with well-targeted content and design more chance to be clicked on. A website in position 4 is going to be clicked on much more than 1, 2 or 3 if the user has hovered over those sites and hasn’t liked what they’ve seen. This wouldn’t work with Google’s current set-up, because at the moment the user has to physically click through and visit the website to get a view of it.
I was fortunate enough to see the latest Google test of previewing website pages within the browser this morning.
Initial analysis of the results highlights some pretty major issues with Flash, splash pages and landing pages designed for snapping up traffic (low on content, high on optimisation).
Hovering your mouse over the listings will display a blue box – this means you are able to view previews of web pages! Sweet! Clicking on the little magnifying glass will bring up the preview page to the right side of the screen, and yes this does cover up some or all of the paid ads depending on how big the preview is. What does this mean for paid search?
Research published last week by Omniture studied 1,200 people in the U.S. looking at their mobile preferences across four key consumer categories: shopping, financial services, media & entertainment and travel.
A key finding in this study has been that in reference to the mobile user experience, respondents tend to favour the mobile web over downloadable mobile apps across all four consumer categories.
Mobile apps are generally preferred when consumers approach music or social media or when they experience games and maps. When focussing on shopping and media & entertainment 66% of the people surveyed expressed a preference for mobile web browsers compared to 34% preferring mobile apps.
Mobile apps are popular but the browser experience cannot continue to be overlooked, brands need to consider engaging with mobile strategies that optimise the experience across both web and app.
In amongst all this, Windows Phone 7 has hit the shelf, perhaps better late than never. Apple’s iPhone and Google’s Android have been squeezing other players, Blackberry and Nokia, out of the space and both will now have to wait to see if Microsoft will start devouring their market share. On the surface it should do just that – a user interface that looks good and is simple to use (like the iPhone) but one that is also capable of customisation (like the Android). So potentially Windows Phone 7 could disrupt the two major players. All of us like Apple’s design finish but not everyone likes it when Apple locks us into its environments – Windows Phone 7 may find a great deal of traction with certain user groups.
No, this isn’t the brand new piece of software which will identify the closest place to eat the best Boeuf Bourguignon in town. It’s actually a rather easy blog title. However, not as easy as apps progression to invaded our everyday life; apps for Androids, apps for iPhones/iPads, apps to locate your train platform or apps to boil your eggs. You still own a Cretaceous Nokia 3310 and think you’ve never used an app? I presume you must be part of that 500 million users social network and once played that popular game about harvesting virtual crops and raising livestock… Well this game is…an app!
How do we know that apps aren’t hype ?
This can be done in 3 steps :
- By reading that Mobile apps will worth $17.5 bln by 2012
- By having a look at Google trends stats
- By finding out the first ever mobile application exhibition is taking place next month in London
According to GetJar, an independent mobile phone application store, 50 billion downloads will occur in 2012. Nevertheless how can I ensure my app will be part of the that figure knowing that everyone is screaming for attention ?
How To Market Your Mobile Application
“You can’t tell how people are going to behave based on how they have behaved”
(Don Draper, Mad Men)
“You can’t make any sense of the facts until you’ve had an idea”
(Stephen King, A Masterclass in Brand Planning)
“Journalists have to balance their role in responding to events with their role as an active seeker of stories”
(Paul Bradshaw, The Guardian)
For ten years, from my mid-teens to mid-twentysomethings I had a monthly appointment that I never ever missed. It was with the nearest newsagent so that I could buy the latest copy of The Face magazine. As a pop-culture obsessive I loved The Face. I loved it because it introduced me to new people, ideas, labels, fashion, movies and music. It kept my world moving forwards by giving me new information that led to new experiences. I loved it so much that I ended up working there – my first proper job out of university. And I still have all my copies stacked together at home as a compendium of times past, the new has become the old. So now I am a curator, a caretaker, of a decade of pop culture, of things I once liked.
The Face is sadly long-gone but the social need it tapped into – the provision of new information and experiences – remains as relevant and necessary today as it has always been. But we are in a dangerous place where the value of taking people somewhere new is in danger of becoming undervalued and, worst case, forgotten completely.
In media and marketing we talk a lot about competing in attention markets – by this we mean the ebb and flow of information that the online ‘crowd’ is interested in at any given time. We believe that the best way to be noticed is to appeal to people based on what they are currently interested in. This is because the internet has created an environment where near-real-time data about people’s likes and dislikes is at our fingertips. Of course, if you are interested in something, it means you already know about it.
The increasing centrality of attention markets in business strategy affects two established professional disciplines – journalism and marketing. For both, the internet is changing how we think about the content we produce. But we have a choice to make. Should we really be writing about and creating things based predominantly on what we know people already like, or should we be giving people new ideas and experiences?
The route we choose has repercussions at a more profound level than the media or marketing industries. It’s an issue for society. New information, ideas and experiences are the very things that have always powered human progress. But how do we move the world on if we are only interested in what people liked yesterday?
Google’s introduction of the ‘blue arrow’ to its Google Instant SERPs has raised questions over the effect this new keyboard navigational system may have on search tactics, particularly PPC.
This new set-up allows searchers to manoeuvre quickly through search results using just the keyboard arrow keys. When the arrow is highlighting the desired result, hitting return will take the user directly to that page.
What could this mean for paid search?
Whilst this system allows for easy navigation and eliminates the need to use the mouse or touchpad, it may result in a higher quantity of false clicks on PPC ads through users accidentally hitting the return key. The blue arrow also clearly highlights the first option as the immediate choice result, an area that is often dominated by PPC results.
Many people seem concerned with where marketing is going, what is the impact of digital, and which are the trends to follow. Last week at IPA’s Club 44, Dan Cobley – Senior Marketing Director of Google, gave his opinion of where he (and Google) sees the world of marketing going in the next 5-10 years. Cobley believes Digital Marketing will be a $500 billion market in 2015, representing 50% of total worldwide advertising. Also, he pointed out that by then, more people will be connected to the internet through mobile devices than ‘regular’ computers. Cobley believes there are three pillars that will sustain and determine Marketing’s evolution: Technology, Economy, and Society.
Evolution will be fuelled by cloud computing and ever increasing Wi-Fi broadband connection and will be able to provide addressable, interactive services (and ads) to everyone, everywhere, anywhere. We already have image and sound recognition tools available and this is only the beginning.
This part can be summarized with the equation ‘value > cost’. In other words, technology breakthroughs and evolutions happen once it’s “worth it” for companies to invest in new solutions which are being demanded by the people. Cobley also mentioned the shift in marketing, where we cannot push content to customers, but pull them instead with relevant content (this is already happening, but it is essential to highlight it’s ever increasing importance). The important role metrics play within digital marketing was also highlighted.
Finally, there is Society, concerning mainly privacy matters. Google defends that information will only be used to make services more efficient and relevant to everyone. Actions like face recognition are completely possible, but may suffer from restrictions due to privacy matters.
Recently we conducted a bit of research around one the nation’s favourite pastimes, sex. Specifically we looked at tips, information and positions, the results were quite interesting so we thought we’d share them.
The graph above shows search seasonality around ‘sex positions’. Valentine’s day, unsurprisingly is a popular time with UK searchers, not as popular however as Easter which is trumped again by Christmas and New Year. It seems people are looking for something to do in their time off : ) The most popular time overall however are the summer months May-Aug, it would seem that summer really is the sexiest time of year. Unfortunately for us as it’s now September we’re now moving into the low point of the year so if you’re not getting any, blame it on the season : )
So who’s doing all the searching, is it the red blooded males or the ladies among us? Overall there are 25% more women than men searching for tips, ideas and positions to get things going in the bedroom. It’s the younger among us that are more interested (do the older generation know it all or are they simply less interested?), with women preferring to search for tips, positions and foreplay and men preferring to search for Kama Sutra.
So next time you’re looking for a little inspiration in the bedroom and decide to turn to the internet don’t worry you’re not alone, you’ll be one of over a 1/4 of a million UK adults who search online every month.
By now I’m sure you’re aware of the new updates Google has made to the way it displays search results. If not our own Doug Platts has written a post breaking it down. But what will it mean with respects to user behaviour and ultimately the click through’s to your site.
To begin with there will undoubtedly be quite a high novelty factor with the new way results are displayed and it will take people a bit of time to get used to the new way it works, but after people get used to the new interface I believe search behaviour will change in the following way.
1) More search will happen in the long tail and less in the head
As users can now see the search results (SERPs) change as they type, over time they will be more likely to continue refining their searches until they see the results that they are looking for. In the past if you were looking for car insurance you might have searched on that term, looked at the results, reaslised that in fact you were looking for ‘car insurance in Ireland’, done another search, looked at the results, decided to refine further to ‘car insurance in Ireland for women’ looked again at the results and then make one final refinement to ‘car insurance in Ireland for women over 50’. Due to the instant nature of the new SERPs it is likely that more people will continue to refine their search until they see exactly what they are looking for. Therefore the proportion of head (short searches) traffic will decrease and long tail (longer searches) will increase. This will obviously benefit sites that are well optimised for longer tail search queries and hurt sites that only focus on the head.
2) Being above the fold will become even more important
As I’m sure most are aware, and for those who are not, Google released Google Instant last night to the world.
Where is it available?
I say the world, actually it seems to be rolled out across the US, i.e. on www.google.com – although you can use that from any location – but for ‘regional Googles’ you still need to be signed into a Google account to experience it in a select batch of countries:
Google Instant is starting to roll-out to users on Google domains in the US, UK, France, Germany, Italy, Spain and Russia who use the following browsers: Chrome v5/6, Firefox v3, Safari v5 for Mac and Internet Explorer v8.
However it is also worth noting that Google Instant won’t work if you try to use it:
- from your browser’s search box
- from the Google Toolbar
- from iGoogle
- from other places that access a Google search
- if you’ve previously disabled Google’s autocomplete feature
- if you’re using Google SSL search
- if you’ve disabled Instant (Just hit the toggle link in the upper right hand corner of the page next to the search button)
So how does Google Instant work?
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- Core Audience
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- Mobile, Social, Ambient by Rachel Pasqua
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- Wired Sussex
- WSJ Digits