The Year in Search: A 2015 Review of SEO & PPC in 6 Bite-Sized Stories

I’m not the Shakespeare of search, but the Bard, Bill Shakespeare, said something that rings oh so very true: “What’s past is prologue.” In other words, history sets the context for the present. So saddle up while we take a look back at search in 2015 and marvel at the many changes and how that makes the present state of the industry what it is and what it may become in 2016.

SEO: Search Engine Optimization

Trying to Solve the Problems People Have With the Mobile Web

Early in 2015, Google made everyone scramble to make sure their websites were responsive, giving everyone a deadline of sorts to be ready. The idea
being, mobile access to the web has eclipsed that of desktops, so having a website that conforms to any screen size (thus making for a better experience)
would most likely have a better presence in mobile search. The scramble happened, sites ranked pretty well and all seemed to be going ok.

But, still, websites that scale to screen size can still be slow, causing people to leave, so Google is cooking up new ideas to redefine and speed
up the mobile web. Hold on to your hats.

Local Search Continues to Dominate:
And Then Google Switched Things Up with the 5-pack

Performing a local search often caused a 5-pack (down from 7) of local business listings. While those local listings get a good share of organic
clicks, Google thought it might be better to pare it down to only 3 listings in 2015. Most likely, the other 4 were getting a disproportionate
number of clicks, so Google tightened up the slack to lessen the amount of scrolling.

Our guess is mobile search results and scrolling is a big part of why they tightened it up — to make the experience quicker for mobile searchers.

So while businesses that had the 4-7 spots surely got fewer clicks, the change means that local companies need to step up their local presence
even more in order to either dominate the 3-pack or have a heavier presence in the organic listing below the pack.

Click Thru Rate & Rank:
You Better have a Stellar Experience on the Other Side of the Click

Google started implementing more of its CTR algorithm to weed out crappy website experiences. Just because a business owner thinks his/her website
is ‘great’, the data can often tell a different story.

What Pogo Sticking Is:

Let’s say a consumer searches and clicks on result number 3. When he/she gets to the site, the experience stinks (slow loading, junk content, too
much content, poor design, etc.), so he/she jumps back to Google and clicks another result. The more this happens, the more Google is signaled
that people simply are not fond of what is on the other side of the click. Therefore, the process of Pogo Sticking on the consumer side of
things causes Google to drop the website from its sweet spot in search results.

PPC: Paid Ads

Bing Neared Profitability in Q1

Yeah, so? Well that means Bing is gaining search share and that paid ads are picking up a lot of steam on that platform. Diversifying your ad locations
(beyond just Google) was a huge thing for businesses participating in paid search in 2015. It goes without saying, moving forward in that same
manner in 2016 is a smart move.

Smartphone Targeting: Google & Bing

Both Google and Bing buried the ability to target smartphones pacifically with separate campaigns. Instead, their ‘unified device targeting’ means
that your ads better play nice on both. But, all is not lost of those looking to only target mobile – there are companies out there that (are
not run by Google and Bing) can help you do this, such as YieldMo. But know that YieldMo has been heavily invested in by Google!

The Adwords Editor Update Hit in 2015 and Has Some Nice New Features:

  • Labels
  • Call-only Ads
  • Upgraded URLs

What should we all be looking forward to in 2016? Well, what’s past is prologue, so look for the above to continue to dominate, while the search
engines continue to evolve into more efficient programs. Stay tuned for upcoming posts from Brawn Media that look into the future of search!


Written by Joe Schafer, Search Engine Optimization Specialist at Brawn Media. Learn more about him and the rest of our team here!

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