Included in this month’s issue of Internet Retailer is a search marketing survey which collated the responses of 95 anonymous retailers, 67% of which are based on the web exclusively. The findings seem to communicate the idea that the little guys are getting beat out of the SERPs, thanks in large part of Google’s paid search product listings including Product Listing Ads and other barriers that make visibility difficult to retain.
Spokespersons from Giggle.com, Allurez.com and Kenshoo Ltd. seem to agree: when it comes to earning a spot among Google’s organic rankings, the competition is only getting more crowded. There’s simply less space for organic search to rank. Not only that, but it’s getting harder for digital marketing managers to utilize digital marketing budgets for natural search effectively, due to (keyword not provided), Google’s search within a site (which places a competitor’s search ads near the retailer’s own search results), and the rising trend of mobile, which limits screen size and thus negatively affects the number of results shown.
Despite all of this, 46% of the survey’s respondents reported an increase in traffic to their e-commerce sites over the past year through organic search. As the landscape becomes more competitive, the majority of respondents (68%) are generating and publishing better content to increase page rank. 67% of respondents believe that rewriting keyword descriptions is a boon to optimization efforts, and 63% are maximizing copy with phrases used by shoppers while they search.
Even while faced against these setbacks, many retailers and small businesses do not have the means to pay for their highly coveted spot on the SERPs. Only 53% of survey respondents will be increasing their PPC search spending in 2015, which leads us to question whether or not Google’s algorithm changes are sustainable. Similar to the demands Facebook has made of advertisers this year; will a lack of visibility force the public’s hand in spending dollars they don’t have to participate in a losing game? Or will businesses look to other search engines and digital streams to bolster brand awareness among their demographics?
Increases in search marketing budgets only occurred in 40% of those participating retailers; 42% reported to no change, while 16% actually signified a decrease in spending. It will be interesting to see if Google’s coming updates make it easier or more difficult for businesses to see a return on investment through both paid and organic search efforts in 2015.