What it is, how to track it and much more!
In the world of search engine marketing, there is one, single constant: change. Every month, every week, and in some instances, every single day, there is at least one to two changes made to Google’s Search Algorithm. Sometimes, they are major changes that completely shake up the search results; however, the average change is simply a tweak to the existing algorithm that makes its results just a bit more accurate, a bit more relevant, etc.
But what if Google could make a change to its search engine that dramatically changed search behavior as we know it? What if this could be done without making any huge changes to the results? Well, they’ve done just that.
Google, along with all other search engines, has realized it loses money if it gives you what you want. If you make a search and it gives you what you want, you click off its search engine, and now you are on the website you wanted. Because of this fact, Google has changed some of the ways it is displaying the information you are searching for – for the explicit purposes of changing your search behavior.
At the beginning of this year, Google started dramatically changing how it displayed business information to its searchers. Previously, you would make a search, you’d get your ads at the top, search results below that, and ads on the right side of the page, and it was up to you to decide what information was official or not.
Now, whenever you make a business related search, Google will be serving up all of their information to you directly from the search result. You will have access to the business’s phone number, hours, website URL and other important information that visitors like to know before committing to doing business. (Right: Figure 1)
This has been a gradual roll out that we have been covering as it’s been happening. First, it started with displaying official business information on the right. Then, it grew to include most popular times, and it kept growing until now, where you can even make your appointment directly from the Google search result page.
This was done so that you get exactly the information you need without ever having to leave Google’s search results pages! The idea being that if you don’t have to leave, you’ll return to search quicker, make another search and help them fill up their pocket books that much quicker.
This has huge implications, especially for those of us interested in web analytics. Because of this huge change in Google’s search engine result pages, we will also begin seeing dramatic shifts in our analytics as the behavior of our visitors begins to change as well. Now, a visitor has almost no reason to ever click off of Google’s result pages, as all of the information they could possibly need has been displayed to them, rather prominently, including scheduling options. This will naturally cause a dip in your analytic information in regards to your organic search visitors. Of course, there isn’t “less” action happening, it’s just happening in major ways before they ever reach your website.
Thankfully, Google has begun rolling out some Google+ metric measuring tools. As of now, we are able to get an insight into how many people are coming across your Google+ information, how often people are clicking through to your website (Figure 2), how often people are directly calling from Google’s search result (Figure 3) and how many people request for Google driving directions (huge) (Figure 3-4), and even a breakdown of which days are your busiest in Google’s eyes (Figure 5).
(Above: Figure 2)
(Above: Figure 3)
(Above: Figure 4)
(Above: Figure 5)
Like we said in the above paragraph, this information is brand-spanking new. Currently, Google doesn’t offer the best archiving or reporting of this data. We are currently working on some proprietary ways to track and report this information in much more complete ways. Of course, we will keep you all updated as this information comes to light!