Where Do Searchers Click On Google Results?

Do you ever wonder where most users click on the Google search results pages? MarketingSherpa did a study back in 2006 I just happened across, using a heat map (get a free heat map for your site). The study tracks the mouse arrow on the page and where they click. I think the study results are a bit expected, yet a bit surprising at the same time.

Google Results Heat Map

Here are my bullet points regarding this image:

  • Notice the sidebar sponsored results. Little to no activity. If this is the case, where do all of the PPC clicks come from for search results? Unless you’re the highest bidder and being shown on the top sponsored, there isn’t much action.
  • The top sponsored results seem to get the best activity as far as sponsored goes. It would appear the most opportunity would be the last, or bottom of the top sponsored results. In other words, closest to the natural results. Problem is, you have to break your bank if you’re in a competitive market to get those top spots.
  • The natural list is what was expected. People prefer natural results over sponsored results. The top 1-2 spots get the majority of the clicks and while the rest of the top 10 get some activity, the top spots are going to pull in a good 60-70 percent of the traffic.

Putting the pieces together, be careful of your sponsored ads. Keep good logs to ensure the clicks are good true clicks. A good click will stay on your site longer than a second or two. A good click will visit your site for a minimum of 15-20 seconds, but generally a few minutes.

If you really want the bang for your buck, go for the the top of the natural results. The clicks are real and no chance of fraudulent activity. Not to mention it usually costs a lot less when it all boils down. Want to learn more? Give us a call! 866.LNK.WRTH.

**EDITED**
Per Enrique’s question below, I did an image search and found a link to this site, so credit to them and the actual sources of these images, but here is some other great information about searcher behavior:

Click Percentages

Results

Sample Results

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Social Networks Not Ad Worthy

I recently posted our success, or lack thereof, advertising over on Facebook. In the post I pointed out that it could very well be the lack of knowledge on my part, but I posted our numbers and usually numbers don’t lie.

Today I was forwarded a great article from one of my good friends, Simon, with the title of “Google’s Loss is Murdock’s Gain“. In this article, it speaks of Google’s lack luster earnings and recent stock drop, along with what Google says is one of the main causes.

“We have found that social networking inventory is not monetizing as well as we would like,” said George Reyes, Google’s chief financial officer, implying that the sites on which the minimum payments are due were social networks. By far, the largest social network on which Google sells ads is MySpace, which is owned by Mr. Murdoch’s News Corporation. In 2006, Google agreed to a three-year deal to sell ads on MySpace, committing to pay a minimum of $900 million.

This falls back to my gut feeling about social networks, the user demographics and their spending abilities. Here’s an example:

Let’s say you put a shopping strip across the street from a University. In this shopping center, you have Mercedes Benz, FAO Shwartz and Saks. While there will definitely be some sales from students, most will walk right past on their way to Fraternity or Sorority houses, local bars or music hot spots.

I know some people have said they do well with social advertising, but when a company like Google openly states they are losing money through advertising in social networks, then you can bet your ass that your chances aren’t all that great. Straight from the horses mouth:

“We have a huge amount of social networking inventory, including the MySpace relationship,” Mr. Brin said. “I don’t think we have the killer best way to monetize social networks yet. We are running a lot of experiments and we have had some significant improvements. But some of the things we were counting on in Q4 didn’t pan out. There were some disappointments there.”

Reading this makes me think even more that Izea’s SocialSpark has a huge chance to be the flop of the year.

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Ever Looked at a Price Tag and Take a Step Back

It’s called “Sticker Shock“. When you look at something and instantly realize that what you’re looking at buying does not meet the price you’re looking at on the price tag. According to Wikipedia, the term sticker shock came from the high price of automobiles in the 70’s and 80’s.

Imagine telling someone you’ll pay $45 BILLION for something. This is what Microsoft told Yahoo in an unsolicited letter.

Under our proposal, Microsoft would acquire all of the outstanding shares of Yahoo common stock for per share consideration of $31 based on Microsoft’s closing share price on January 31, 2008, payable in the form of $31 in cash or 0.9509 of a share of Microsoft common stock. Microsoft would provide each Yahoo shareholder with the ability to choose whether to receive the consideration in cash or Microsoft common stock, subject to pro-ration so that in the aggregate one-half of the Yahoo common shares will be exchanged for shares of Microsoft common stock and one-half of the Yahoo common shares will be converted into the right to receive cash. Our proposal is not subject to any financing condition. Our proposal represents a 62% premium above the closing price of Yahoo common stock of $19.18 on January 31, 2008. The implied premium for the operating assets of the company clearly is considerably greater when adjusted for the minority, non-controlled assets and cash. By whatever financial measure you use – EBITDA, free cash flow, operating cash flow, net income, or analyst target prices – this proposal represents a compelling value realization event for your shareholders…

Microsoft’s consistent belief has been that the combination of Microsoft and Yahoo clearly represents the best way to deliver maximum value to our respective shareholders, as well as create a more efficient and competitive company that would provide greater value and service to our customers…

We would value the opportunity to further discuss with you how to optimize the integration of our respective businesses to create a leading global technology company with exceptional display and search advertising capabilities. You should also be aware that we intend to offer significant retention packages to your engineers, key leaders and employees across all disciplines…

Due to the importance of these discussions and the value represented by our proposal, we expect the Yahoo Board to engage in a full review of our proposal.

The reactions are mixed with some saying Microsoft is buying a big bag and others saying it is a smart move by the software giant, saying the online advertising sales is where Microsoft lacks.

I think the interesting fact here is, Bill Gates can write a check for $45 billion and still have $14 billion left over. “Yahoooooooo!”

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Et tu, AdSense?

We’re all aware that Google AdSense “matches ads to your site’s content” right? (At least in theory.)

And I think it’s safe to assume that we know how Google feels about paid links, right? Ahem…

Well, that’s precisely why I think the subject of this post is so ironic.

Early on there were countless instances where Google would display AdSense ads that were completely off-topic to the publisher’s site. I remember reading all of the grumbles and growls about it…especially a couple years back. Now, though, I think they do a pretty good job of sending targeted ads to the right places, wouldn’t you agree?

Keeping this in mind, I was doing some research for a client today and I came across a post on Search Engine Land that caught my eye. It wasn’t the title of the post that caught my eye nor was it the author. (Although I have MASSIVE amounts of respect for Barry…just stay with me.) No, what caught my eye were the AdSense ads being displayed a couple paragraphs under the title.

google-mini2.jpg

It wasn’t until after I had wiped the tears of laughter from my eyes that I was able to take that screenshot.

What’s so funny about it, you ask? If you’re aware of the whole Google Mini link debate you’ll know what I mean.

Basically, in return for purchasing the Google Mini search appliance you are rewarded with a link to your site. Now, let’s piece that together real quick: you buy something from Google and they link to your site. Sounds like a paid link, right?

Of course it does. It is.

But that’s old news and I’ve already heard Google’s defense that these links don’t pass juice blah, blah, blah.

The true irony to me is that Google’s own product seems to be “turning the knife” on Google itself here. I mean, right smack-dab in the middle of a blog post about paid links is an AdSense ad for the Google Mini…which doubles as Google’s own paid link product! Giggle.

I guess maybe Google is doing too good of a job at matching AdSense with relevant content, huh?!

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Knol Way Around It

Attention web spammers! You now have yet another venue to muck up the SERPs….congratulations!

I just read about Google’s new knol project and although I’m sure it will be hugely successful, I can’t help but think that this is bad news.

Why? Simple. There will almost certainly be one less organic position available on Google’s first page of results for most keywords. And eventually all keywords, I have to assume, based on what I just read.

This industry is all-too-familiar with Google’s love affair with Wikipedia. And while I myself find Wikipedia useful in many ways, I don’t necessarily think they deserve the blind authority they receive in Google’s results. For example, in the screenshot below you’ll see Wikipedia listed at #3 for “vehicle insurance.”

local-link1.jpg

I’m sure Geico (who is listed at #9) is thrilled! I mean, if I’m searching for vehicle insurance I’m probably looking to purchase it, which I obviously can’t do at Wikipedia. But this isn’t about that….really.

My real concern is that Google plans to stay far, far away from editing these “knols” yet they ARE going to let the authors monetize them and share the ad revenue that Google generates.

Excuse me? WHAT??

Wow. I can see it already…a whole bunch of new crap occupying the SERPs. Think about it. Anyone remember when AdSense came out? All the “MFA” sites that were built (that Google still hasn’t fully gained control of, I might add) that just seemed to flood the web. I think this will be the same deal. “Authors” will write on every imaginable topic and, whether it’s accurate or not….good or bad, Google will almost certainly rank these pages higher than they should. If you don’t believe me, please see the screenshot above!

In Google’s defense, they do a lot of things right and I’m sure this will be a nice “product” for them. BUT, I cringe at the thought of them creating such an easy-access platform for generating SPAM. Maybe I’m wrong, but I would like to hear Matt Cutts’ perspective on this.

They’re slaughtering publishers of text link ads for selling links because they affect rankings. But won’t this negatively affect rankings, too? Will Google automatically include knols on the first page just as they do Wikipedia….simply because they’re knols?

We’ll find out soon enough, I guess.

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Google Pulls Ads for Link Buying Keywords

While searching for something this evening, I was hit with an odd sight on Google. The results looked like the old days with no advertisements. Of course, I wondered if Google might be having technical issues, so I did a few more queries and what I found was quite surprising.

It appears Google has decided to fold to peer pressure and pull all ads that show for popular keywords related to the link buying industry. I’ve heard the question asked at several conferences, asking why Google complains about link buying, but then turns around and lets the link buying industry advertise their service through AdWords. I can only assume this is the reason the ads are not showing now.

I ran several searches and it seems like a half ass attempt because a search for ‘buy link, sell links, buy link popularity’ show ads, but a search for ‘buy links, text link ads, buy text links’ show no ads. I think it’s pretty hilarious that they’re going to such lengths to hide the obvious fact; their algorithm is flawed and they can’t fix it.

Here are the results I searched:

Text Link Ads
Text Link Ads
 
 Buy Link
Buy Link
 
Buy Links
Buy Links
 
 Buy Text Links
Buy Text Links
 
Buy Link Popularity
Buy Link Popularity
 
 Sell Links
Sell Links
 

Maybe they’ll pop back up, but I would bet they’re trying to portray a dominant image. I compare it to when a guy breaks up with a girl that he really likes, but he’s trying to play the ‘cool guy’ in front of all his friends. In the back of his mind he wants to whisper in her ear to come to his place later on, but in front of the public, he acts like he doesn’t need her.

Eventually, they’ll be left with an index full of AdWords and Wikipedia results.

**UPDATE**
This is a confirmed story. Straight from the horses mouth.

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More Hypocrisy By Google – Nofollow?

A couple of weeks ago, I blogged about Google selling links for a cheap annual price of $1,995. It was a story that I read some time ago but could not find the real owner, until today when Rustybrick sphunn what I had just sphunn and provided a link to the original story. I appreciate someone finally telling me who I could credit because I don’t like duplicating stories without giving kudos.

As I’m reading the comments on sphinn today, I see where people are saying the backlinks are not showing up. I would suggest they are not looking very hard. I researched several when I was blogging a couple of weeks ago and found the google backlinks on several of the domains. This made me want to do even more research today and I happened across even more google links that are essentially links that were bought. Oddly enough, the nofollow tag is absent on all of these. Something Google is forcing everyone to do if it is paid for in some fashion.

Now the original link farm style page was a hit and miss for finding google on their backlinks. Lucky for me, I stumbled on a gold mine of hard evidence they are nothing but hypocrites over at Google. Let me introduce the enterprise superstars!

http://www.google.com/enterprise/superstars/index.html

These people are Google customers who have paid for the Google Mini and because they paid, were recognized and highlighted. The first page is a list of the “Current Winners”. Each person from the respective company is highlighted and given a Pay for Post style write up on a Google blog. (example)

Now let us move on to the real gold, the success stories page. If there were doubts about passing juice before, this page should seal the deal with proof.

I did the daunting task of checking all 187 links on this page (umm..link farm?) and the results paint the picture:

  • 171 of the domains have google.com appearing in their google backlinks.
  • 10 of the domains do not have google.com in their google backlinks.
  • 5 of the domains have no cache and/or no website present.
  • 1 of the domains has a typo and the link does not work.

In summary, if you want a good solid backlink or even a backlink and a blog review on the google blog, then pay for the google mini and become one of their superstars.

I have put the entire list with results in this PDF called Google Link Selling if anyone wishes to check my work.

Their new motto should be, “Do As I Say, Not As I Do!”

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Google vs Bloggers – eWar of 2007 – Bunker Down Pilgrims!

There’s definitely no doubt that the eWar of 2007 between Google and Bloggers has taken a new turn. It appears that Google has targeted the bloggers who are part of the loud and proud company of payperpost. It sucks for the bloggers because their system offers work based on their PR and now Goog has taken that away, but I’m sure they’ll dig their way out of it. This move definitely gives the goog troops the false apparent upper hand. But the word is they’ve hit others too.

What does this mean for you? Well it’s no secret that people who use them more than likely use LinkWorth and many other money making networks, other than Google. Since Goog is trying to perform a public abortion to other ad networks and taking the bloggers with them, I figured the bloggers should go into their battle well prepared. I’ll come back towards the end of this post and give my two cents on those who wave the white flag, but first, here’s my checklist for anyone who uses any of these networks Goog is trying to bully into a slow death:

  • Clean Your Tracks
    Search engines, although they have huge amounts of resources, still have to use their algo’s to spot issues. Or they rely on the brown nosers to squeal on others and report their fellow competition. That means you must do your best to clean your tracks. What does this mean? Remove all of the outbound links pointing to ad networks you are using that Google probably isn’t that fond of. Consolidate them to point to a single redirection script that resides on your site. Let that script send your affiliate code and block the bots from indexing that redirection file.

    Also, make sure you are not so flamboyant with your promotions. A lot of bloggers I come across have badges thrown across their site promoting a handful of ad networks, which just makes it very easy to spot when a human review is performed by the pesky opposing enemy. Try to move your promotions to their own page. For example, write a post about whoever you’re promoting and on your sidebar where you list affiliate links, link your sidebar to the individual pages rather than directly to the affiliate site. Even on these pages, use the redirection script mentioned above to prevent bots from following the links. Here is a redirection script and I would name the jump.php to a unique name you create, then each link sent to that file, add the rel=”nofollow” so bots will not follow. You can go even further to add the meta noindex,nofollow underneath the script.

  • Disclose On Your Terms
    Disclosure is usually something you want to lean towards, but since the enemy is attacking people who do disclose, it might be best to not disclose at all. For this example, I’ll give suggestions for both ways. It is always good to let your readers know when you are giving a live spot and when you’re speaking from the heart. Most readers are smart enough to figure this out on their own, but the “know-it-all’s” who make the most noise feel it’s polluting the net when bloggers do not disclose paid vs non paid. I would like to see them be in the shoes of the common blogger that works their asses off to write clever and great selling points for advertisers, only to get bitch slapped because of someone else’s agenda. I’ve actually read some of the best blog posts from bloggers doing it for money.

    Anyhow, do what you need to do to cover your expenses and bills, but if you can do it and disclose, more power to you. But when you disclose, keep each disclosure unique from others. This eliminates patterns, which is what the enemybot looks for. For each post, make the title unique, but with the same message. For example: “Today Company X has paid me to review Product Y“; or… “A quick Review by Company X who paid for it“. The more unique you make each post, the better chance you have to make your readers trust you and keep the enemy off your ass. If you choose to disclose using an image, make it an image you pull from YOUR site, not from the ad network. I would download the image, save it to your desktop, rename it to something unique, then put it in the images folder of your host. If using the ALT tags, use keywords related to the post rather than calling it “disclosure” or the adnetwork you’re using. Make sure they don’t all use the same, as well. Otherwise, don’t use images for disclosure.

  • Refuse Public Mugshots
    A lot of ad networks like to showcase who is part of their inventory. They’ll use your name, company or url to plaster all over their site in hopes of bringing in new business. In a normal happy world, this is an awesome way for both sides to get more pub. The problem is, with Goog going after anyone who participates in these networks, it just isn’t the best thing to do. If you give a testimonial, ask to be anonymous. The ad network isn’t out to wrong you, it just makes you a sitting target.

    Also make sure the ad network doesn’t reveal all of your information to any visitor that stops by. Someone pointed out the reason PPPost was popped is because their entire inventory is available to the public on their site. In their defense, they’re catering towards potential advertisers and had no idea it would be used against them. If you make it easy to spot, the self appointed net god will do what they want to penetrate the opposing side. If you are part of a network that makes everyone public knowledge without your consent, make a strong case to remove that feature or at least remove your listing.

  • Host Your Affiliate Images
    Most affiliate programs will serve up affiliate banners/images from the suppliers website. The advantage to this is if images change, you’ll always have the most current version. The disadvantages would be slow load times if there is a connectivity issue, the image being removed from host and you are not told, size of image changing and I’m sure there are other little issues with it. The most important disadvantage is you’re telling the bots where you are pulling the image from. So if you are pulling an image from adnetwork.com/images/img21.jpg, they know you’re probably part of that site. It’s easy to spot it and you’re busted. The way to bypass this is to right click the image and save it to your computer. Then upload to your own site and pull the image from your own site. Don’t add the ALT tags with the network name either. Throw a good keyword that relates to your site.
  • Try Acronyms Instead
    It’s probably safe to say that reading a blog that uses the name BLOGPIMP (made up name) more than 10 times, is probably part of the BLOGPIMP network. With this in mind, knowing its an easy pattern to spot, how easy can it be for G00G to add this to their algo and spot sites/blogs that mention “NAME” more than X times? I’d say very easy. Use your own acronyms to reference the network you’re talking about and maybe provide a legend somewhere visible. You can also link the acronym to your affiliate page mentioned above. There are other options like using a mouseover for the acronym and bury the answer into some javascript. Then when someone places their mouse over the acronym, a pop up window or tooltip message appears showing the affiliate name. The main goal is to not mention these ad networks in every to every other post. Here is an example tooltip script. Using #6 and placing your function call in a .js file separate of your page would be optimal. But there are many great scripts to use.
  • More Bang For The Buck Over Ads That Just Suck
    2-3 years ago, everyone wanted Pagerank because it mattered in search results. If you had a PR 7 or above, you were damn near guaranteed to be the top player in your market. Things have changed, so we must also change and get over the PR thing. It’s like going to the music store and demanding a Van Halen cassette, they probably exist somewhere, but it’s so outdated and who has a cassette player!

    Do you want to attract advertisers? Then give them more bang for their buck! Don’t shove their ad over in the sidebar or foot with your blogroll or list of 10 other advertisers. Stick them in your content so your readers actually see the ads. Footer and sidebar ads pretty much suck if you want to give value to your real estate. Let’s say a huge parade was coming down your street and a street vendor asked to lease a small spot in your yard to solicit to people walking by. Would you offer them up a tiny space in the middle of your backyard? No. And they probably will not be interested. Show potential advertisers that you want people to click their link and put ads inside your content and you’ll see people will want to spend money with you. (Like our LinkInTxt product – quick plug)

  • NEVER Let ‘Em See You Sweat!
    I’m amazed at all of the noise bloggers are making over this. Obviously bloggers are writers and it’s a way to speak their minds, but all you’re doing is bringing attention to yourself. The enemy’s goal is to create Google FUD (< --Great Article to Read). The craziest thing is people that are giving up thousands of dollars and waving the white flag. And for what? "Hope"? Hoping their PR comes back? And what happens if it never does? Think of all the important green (moola) thrown away for some meaningless green (PR). Ok, back to this point. All of these blog posts you're making on your site is letting them know you're sweating. If you're sweating, you're probably guilty. Today I came across someone that not only made a post about how they would get their PR back, but they pointed out ways to spot paid ads. My suggestion is to keep things on the happy and positive note. Don't let the enemy or potential advertisers see you sweating. You'll lose the fight and you'll lose the sale. Keep your path and act as if nothing has happened. Make necessary changes but keep them to yourself. And if you are part of a network that has a possible flaw, send that network a direct message and let them know about it. See if they have any plans to correct it. Don't give the enemy the gun to shoot you.

To sum things up, just be smart, think ahead and don’t overreact because everyone else is. Pick your poison and learn to co-exist. No one owns the internet which means no one can dictate how you monetize your website. If you have suggestions to add to our list, post them below and we’ll include them.

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Buy A Link On Google.com – Only 1995.00

Isn’t it fun when people don’t practice what they preach? Google offers a link to anyone who spends at least $1,995.00. Most have seen this page before, but I read it over on Sphinn the other day and had to bring it up again.

Basically, Google will give anyone who spends a minimum of $1,995.00 per year for one of their Google Mini‘s, a free customer testimonial and a link back to their site. Oddly enough, they aren’t playing fair in their rel=nofollow game they’ve been pushing on everyone else. Maybe we should start selling text links on Google for $2k per month and use the Google Mini for our own needs. I would imagine most companies would happily pay 2k per year for a solid link on Google. That’s only $166.67 per month or $38.46 per week or $5.48 per day! That’s EASY money. And for those taking notes, their links DO pass PageRank and they do appear as valid backlinks for the sites they link to. Shame, shame spammers.

**UPDATE**
I couldn’t remember where I originally read this, but as I’m making the topic public again, others are riding my wave and pointed out where it was brought up originally.

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Penalizing or Penisizing?

I felt the need to clarify a commonly used word of late and create a new word for what is actually happening.

Penalizing a site – this term we view as a site being dropped out of the SERP’s (Search Engine Result Pages). Maybe Yahoo found some keyword stuffing or Google found you participating in cloaking, but they give you a +50 penalty where you add 50 to your current position and this is where your site appears in their SERP’s. Or they completely remove you from their index or stop indexing your new content. Either way, you’re being penalized in their results, where it all counts.

Penisizing a site – this term we view as a site losing length in their “tool”bar pagerank. This refers only to Google and is experienced when they make an update to their toolbar pagerank algo and said site owner loses visual size in their PR. We don’t view this as a penalty because what should matter to all webmasters is their standing in the SERP’s. If you have been penisized, but you’re still doing well in the SERP’s, then you are just fine. Don’t worry about PageRank!

The size of your PR is not proportionate to your results. For example, when someone searches for your site/company name and you are listed on the top, all is fine. PageRank is something that Google pushed on webmasters several years ago and people use it for performance measures. All you should worry about is how well your site is bringing in the hits through your advertising campaigns and/or organic traffic through search and social networks.

For the lack of size in your tool..um..bar..PR, you might consider purchasing our new product, “PR Pump”. Once you get the PR Pump, just attach it to your toolbar and start pumpin. Results are not guaranteed and the amount of pumps will not be proportionate to your actual performance.

PR PUMPClick To See In Action
Possible side effects are dizziness, over-clicking, constant looking at your toolbar, less focus, diarrhea, constipation, sleepless nights, drowsiness and confusion (I’ve had mine today). If you are pumping for more than 4 hours, please call a LinkWorth Account Manager at 866.LNK.WRTH immediately. This product is made for men and women as this issue is not gender specific.

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