Maximizing SERP "Real Estate"

By Kaitlyn Smeland Dhanaliwala | Feb 6, 2009
More Articles by Kaitlyn

Here at Search Marketing Sage, Avelyn Austin has previously written on incorporating universal search efforts into your overall SEO program.  Universal search results (Google Image, News, Video, Blog, and Local Listing results) do not technically count as part of the top ten organic listings on a given Google search engine results page (SERP).  However, they can help drive traffic from the search engines to your site.  And ultimately, that is the goal behind SEO.

In fact, if you look at the SERP as having a certain amount of square footage on which different companies and advertisers compete for space in hopes of getting the attention of the searcher, Universal Search provides the opportunity to occupy a greater proportion of the total “real estate.”

Let’s say your site holds the top organic search result listing on a given keyword.  Great.  You’ll probably get greater traffic than if your site held a position ten ranking.  But what if Google decides to show Image Search results above the organic listings on the SERP.  If your site’s images manage to rank highly there as well, you are now visible in two different areas of the page.  If you also happen to be bidding on that keyword in a PPC account, you may occupy space in the Sponsored Listings as well.  Now you’re really increasing the likelihood that the searcher will notice your site.  You may even achieve a certain level of brand equity with that searcher by appearing to dominate the page.

Now, there are many articles out there devoted to explaining how to go about opting into, earning, and maintaining Universal Search rankings (such as Local Business Listings).  But here is a cool tip from Martijn Beijk at Search Cowboys on how to use Google Analytics to track the traffic your site gets from Universal Search results as opposed to normal organic traffic.

Looking at the referrer URLs of all traffic from search engines in your Analytics account, you can tell by certain URL tags which area of the SERP the visitor came from.  The tag “oi=” denotes which Universal Search feature, if any, the visitor came from.  A couple common values you’ll see specified in the “oi=” tag are:

  • blogsearch_group,  blog_result (for Blogs)
  • Image_result ,  image_result_group (for Images)

Check out the entire tutorial from Search Cowboys for step-by-step directions on setting up an Analytics filter to automatically isolate traffic from a particular area of Universal Search.

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