The impact of PLA’s within organic search in eCommerce

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Craig Smith  |  Founder & CEO

More and more prospects we speak with are complaining about how the updated Google interface has dramatically reduced click distribution within Google searches.

We hear frequently that “our rankings are better than last year and overall traffic is down for the keyword”, a clear indicator of an ongoing trend of organic search getting a reduction in clicks.

Here’s a good example of how PLA’s capture organic traffic within a popular user query (“backpacks”):

Search Engine Watch reported that organic search traffic is down 13%, a direct casualty of the integration of PLA’s within the Google interface, the greater emphasis on the knowledge graph (in the same right side of the screen) as well as a much cleaner and streamlined Google Maps.

Also factoring in the mix is searches that come from Iphones, more specifically iOS6. If these queries flow through the secure search function in a browser, which is the default option, then the queries register to direct visits within your analytics package.

Google’s business model is based on adwords as it represents 90% or greater of total revenue for the company. The re-engineering of the search engine result page, as well as certain algorithm changes (one could argue the Penguin algorithm), are very much focused on training new search behaviors within their users.

With the launch of PLA’s, the upper right real estate of the Google search UI, in which the product listings are shown, are now getting a high proportion of clicks on user searches and reducing the activity in the standard organic listings. Google is now generating a higher number of PLA click throughs versus the old position and are generating more value for their shareholders as clicks from paid programs increase.

If you are seeing organic traffic decrease and you think it is a factor of PLA’s – there are two key areas that must be executed to hopefully jump your organic search levels back.

First, be sure to integrate micro-formats within your product pages. Predominantly the framework or the Good Relations markup language.

These snippets provide additional context to search users about your products within listings and make your click-through rates typically increase within your long tail queries.

Second, you can try testing promo messaging within your title tags and meta descriptions. Predominantly in eCommerce, we have seen retailers drive substantial SEO traffic by adding “Free Shipping” to their titles and description.

Because users scan and not not read results, seeing the “free shipping” phrase gets users attention and generates higher click distribution.

Just because less clicks are going to organic within eCommerce retail does not mean your hands are tied. Be sure to execute these two efforts within your SEO efforts.

If you are looking for assistance in the implementation of these types of projects, please contact the Trinity Insight SEO team for a discussion into your organic search opportunities

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