New AOL Partner & Google Shakes Things Up

Happy New Year everyone! I’m Paul Steinbrueck and welcome to OurChurch.Com’s monthly SEO Update for January 2016, keeping you up to date on what’s happening in the world of search and how it affects you.

With the start of the new year, I thought I’d experiment with a new location, so this month’s update is coming from my back porch in Safety Harbor, Florida where it’s a beautiful 60 degrees today. I’ve got lots of search engine news that may affect you and your organization, so let’s get to it…

1) Google Had a Major Search Algorithm Update
Google has confirmed it rolled out an update to their core search algorithm the weekend of January 9th and 10th. As usually, Google would not say what specifically has changed. Reports on other search news sites have also not provided an specific observations as to what types of sites have seen their rankings improve or decline. So, for now just be aware that may see some changes in your Google search rankings.

2) AOL & Bing, Officially a Thing
It seems like every month we have a tabloid-esque update about search engine hook ups. The latest is that AOL is now officially displaying search results and ads from Bing. We reported a couple months ago that AOL had dumped Google for Bing, and as of the first of the year that change has been implemented. If you monitor your site’s search rankings in AOL, you’ll probably notice they’re now similar to your Bing rankings instead of your Google rankings. About 1% of all searches take place on AOL.

3) New Way to Update Your Google Local Listing
The biggest growth in search in 2015 was the use of mobile devices in “nearby” searches – searches for places, services and events near a person’s current location. Not only do all the major search engines have their own local or map searches, but there are also a number of smaller, local-only search engines and review sites like Yelp.

If you have every changed locations, phone numbers, or hours of operation for a local organization and tried to get your info updated in local search engines, you know it can be a major pain. (In fact, this is one of the major benefits of having a company like OurChurch.Com manage your search listings).

Recently Google began experimenting with a new way to communicate a local organization’s data (and changes to that data) in special tags hidden in your website. These tags are not visible to website visitors, and can be used to tell Google the address, phone number, latitude & longitude and hours of operation.

Currently, this is just a pilot program open to a small group of sites, and Google has not said when it might make it available globally.

If they eventually do open it up to all organizations, it will make it easier to update that information in Google. And as organizations implement these special tags for Google, it’s likely other local search engines would also look at these tags. So, eventually we may no longer have to update lots of local listings but may be able to simply update the info on our websites and see the local listings automatically update their data. Let’s hope.

4) Data on Organic vs Paid Search Ads
I recently came across two interesting bits of data that gives some perspective to the affect paid ads on the search results pages are having organic search results.

One study found that 77% of searches result in a click on an organic search listing. That means 23% of the time when people search, they either click an ad or they don’t click on anything.

A second study found that when an ad is present at the top of the search results page, the click rate on the #1 organic search listing 30% less than when there’s no ad on the page.

So, it’s clear that paid search ads are taking away clicks and visitors from the organic search results.

If you’ve been watching our monthly SEO updates, you probably know this has been a recurring theme we’ve reported on. We could just complain about the way the search engines are showing more and more ads to grow their revenue, but that’s not going to get more people to our websites.

If you’re not already buying or at least experimenting with paid search ads, it’s something to consider in 2016. Not only will it help to mitigate the decline in clicks on organic search results, but it can be beneficial from a branding perspective as more people will see the name of your organization when they search, especially if they see both your paid and organic listing in the search results.

That is all for this month’s update.

Remember, we live in this internet age, so it’s important that you stay strong in the search engines so you can achieve your mission online. We here at OurChurch.Com are here to help you do that, so if we can answer any questions for you or do anything else to help you improve your search engines and achieve your mission online, please give us a call or send us an email.

Thanks for watching and have a Happy New Year!

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