Important Google AdWords Update!

Google released an important update to search engine results pages affecting websites and advertisers worldwide.

The update displays four AdWords Ads above the organic results and has removed all ads from the sidebar. An additional three ads will still appear at the bottom of the page, below the organic results.

Although this might be an advertiser’s dream, regular webmasters relying on organic search and search engine optimization (SEO) practices won’t be as happy to see their results pushed further down the page.

search-results-ads
The AdWords ads appear in the red box, while the beginning of the organic search results can be found in the blue box.

Increased Ad Performance

According to a Google spokesperson, the change is designed for highly commercial queries, or searches that are further into the purchase funnel.

For example, search queries involving phrases like “buy soccer cleats” or “register soccer camp” that are further into the buy phase than the research phase will show the four ads above organic search results.

The layout intends to provide more relevant results towards the top, and better performance for advertisers.

Fewer Ads

Even though four ads will take the most coveted spots on the page, there will actually be fewer ads overall with the elimination of the sidebar ads.

The update will limit the page to a maximum of seven ads – four at the top and three at the bottom.

Global Reach

The change to the AdWords ads has been made worldwide. It will affect all countries and all ads, regardless of language.

What Does This Mean For Local Sports Clubs?

search-results-near-me

The new ad placement will push clubs relying solely on SEO best practices even further down the search results to make room for paid placements.

In the following example, searching “soccer sign ups near me” displays a list of four ads before the organic choices.

Of the organic results, two out of three (US Youth Soccer and AYSO) both appear twice, once in the ads section and once in the organic results.

Arlington Soccer Association, the only option that isn’t displayed in the ads section, now ranks in the 6th position overall.

Local organizations will have to work even harder on their SEO best practices to ensure they maintain their placement towards the top of the list and can remain “above-the-fold” where Google users can see them listed as an option before having to scroll down the page.

Need some guidance when it comes to boosting your website’s ranking in search engine results pages? Browse through some of these helpful articles found on the Demosphere Blog:

Register Your Local Business With Google
Ignoring Bad Reviews? Bad Strategy.
Be “Mobile-Friendly” Or Face The Consequences
Local Search – Reviews Help!
How Is Your Organization Reflected Across The Web?
Low-Cost Websites – Can Google Find Them Easily?
Automatic SEO Benefits In WebWriter

Local Search – Reviews Help!

ReviewsReviews are important – especially to those who aren’t familiar with your organization!

We recently discussed the importance of verifying your local listing to be sure your youth sports organization is reflected properly across the web.

Once that’s done, consider reviews as a key differentiator. When potential new users seek out area organizations, reviews are one factor that help determine how things are listed – and what ultimately gets clicked by the person searching.

The below example is a portion of the search results page for the search term “alexandria soccer clubs” – I’m pretending I’m a new parent in the Alexandria, VA area looking for soccer programs for my child.

 

Local Search Sample

You’ll notice three organizations are listed – two of which have a full address confirmed with Google. This most likely happened by registering free through Google My Business.

Between these three groups, you’ll see only one has a review…and they only have one.

Since it’s only one, Google isn’t putting much weight into it. If there were more reviews, it would highlight them on a 5-star scale (showing the actual stars), and may end up listing the best-reviewed group first in this list.

While reviews aren’t the only factor influencing the order here, it’s an important one, so once you confirm your listing with Google My Business, point your members there to leave a quick review. It will pay dividends in the long run!

Have you found success with this technique? Let us know in the comments below!

How Is Your Organization Reflected Across The Web?

Local SEO

When was the last time you searched for your organization on Google? It’s probably been a while, right?

Consider that there are plenty of potential new members looking for your organization – and you need to make it as easy as possible for them to find you!

Be Consistent

One important search ranking factor involves making sure your organization is listed correctly across the web. This is determined by more than just what’s on your website!

For starters, make sure your NAP is on your site – or name, address, and phone number. 

Next, check to see that the rest of the web has this information correct.

We recommend running a check on Moz Local – a service that checks across Google, Facebook, Bing, and other locations to see what’s listed.

Depending on what it shows, you can utilize their service for less than $100/yr to clean up many of the listings that are, frankly, a pain to manage.

In addition, be smart and verify your Google My Business listing, Bing Places listing, and Facebook page listing, too. This applies even if you do not have an actual office – a P.O. Box is fine.

Altogether, you’ll boost your site’s reputation in the search engine world and be eligible to appear more than once on the first page of search results.

Low-Cost Websites – Can Google Find Them Easily?

Free or low cost websites perform poor in page discovery.Have a free or low-cost website? Did you know that many of them do not adhere to some crucial website best practices?

When trying to determine where to rank content in search results, Google (and other search engines) look to a number criteria. Page URL, Page Title, and Page Description are three ranking factors that provide important clues about what can be found on that page.

Page URL

Your domain, www.xyzsportsclub.org, is what appears in the address bar when someone goes to your site. When you go to a sub page, how is that page named?

For example, if I went to the “Recreation Soccer” page, the page URL should be something like: xyzsportsclub.org/Recreation-Soccer/.

For many free or low cost websites, it’s not. Instead, it’s something like xyzsportsclub.org/Default.aspx?tabid=576439. Do you think that gives Google a good indication of what’s on that page?

Page Title

The title of the page should also provide Google another clue as to what’s on this page. An ideal title for our Recreation Soccer page might be “Recreation Soccer | XYZ Sports Club. Too often, it’s simply “Recreation Soccer” or even “Welcome To Recreation Soccer”, which is OK, but not great – it could be any Recreation Soccer page.

Page Description

Not generally seen by the public (except in search results), the page description offers a quick summary of what’s on the page. For many free or low cost sites, this area is simply left blank – or even worse, simply “Description”.

A good description might be something like “XYZ Sports Club offers Recreation Soccer programs to children ages 4-10 who live in the greater XYZ area.”

These three factors mean that the time you spend on producing great content for your site isn’t serving you as well as it could. To succeed in search results, be sure to look at the details of exactly what’s included in your website package – it’s possible that free or low cost option is costing you new business.

What’s In A (Page) Name?

Page Title

How do you name your pages?

Search engines like Google and Bing use a variety of factors to display the most relevant search results. Included in these factors is URL Name and Page Title.

The URL Name is the actual name of the page in the address bar of your browser.

The Page Title is the title of the page that appears both at the top of the page and in the specific tab of your web browser.

Recommendation & Best Practices

Taking advantage of these areas is very much in the best interest of your site. Moving forward, here are some items to consider:

  • Be short & concise. Make sure your name & title aren’t too long or you run the risk of them being cut off.
  • Utilize Keywords. In your quest to be as concise as possible, utilize keywords in both your URL name and page title. Utilize Google’s Keyword Tool to see what others are searching for … and mirror this with your selection.
  • Unique. Create unique names and titles. Repeating these across multiple pages within your site is a red flag for search engines.

For those using Demosphere’s WebWriter® Content Management System, your page name is determined by the title of the first article on the particular page.

Based on the recommendations above, spending an additional 30 seconds per page can pay huge dividends for your site – get in the habit of naming appropriately today!