Over the weekend I cycled around the Isle of Wight. No Tour de France, admittedly, but a gentle potter along to build up the training miles. As I hit Ventnor hill, however, my pace slowed to a painful plod; so slow that casual pedestrians started overtaking me. Luckily, the Island provides plenty of advertising billboards to look at as your grimace you way up the hill. I looked at adverts for dog food, ladies clothing and the latest car models. Oh how I wished I had a car right then. Have I gone and brought any of those items? No, but the effective advert campaigns have stuck in my mind. Perhaps in the future I will need to buy dog food, a new car or… erm… ladies clothing? Traditional advertising still considers these billboards that do not lead to direct sales as a worthy investment opportunity.
Impressions on Search Engine Results Page
When you search for particular keyword (let’s use ‘Pubs in Ventnor, Isle of Wight’) Google serves you up a page of results. Our eyes quickly scan the page and decide which site to click on. Roughly, you would expect somewhere between 2-10% of people seeing your site on the SERP to click on it. Improving this is known as improving your click through rate. So, are the 90% of people who see you in the SERP and don’t click on your site just wasted opportunities? No, because it is still a valid form of advertising.
People rarely move from initially hearing about a product to buying it in the same moment. Perhaps the only expectation is low cost impulse buys – or as I call them “unnecessary cycling accessories I continue to buy”. Currently I am looking to upgrade my bike, which is a carefully thought through process. I search the internet, read reviews and talk to friends. In my Google searches, many websites appear that I do not click on. Yet I am still aware of the brands, especially those that appear for more than a couple of keywords.
Impressions on SERPs are like a dot-to-dot slowly making up the bigger picture. Ideally we would love users to search our buyer keyword, see our site, click on it and then buy our product all in one move. In reality, however, that impression may just be a dot. Over time, those dots join to give your potential customers the bigger picture of who you are and what services you have to offer.
Making the right impression
Good SEO companies will help you make the right impression and there are plenty of tools in the toolbox to help. The basics are writing excellent title tags and meta descriptions. Then, there is using rich snippets and adding Google+ authorship.
As a customer you expect to see improvements in your site traffic and click through rates. My suggestion is to pay close attention to the impressions on SERPs you are getting as well. Impressions are like your company’s billboard stuck by the Google roadway. People may just be cruising past and give you a glance but who knows where that may end up.
That is why I think impressions are SEO’s undervalued metric.