Variations in Branded Mobile Search Results in 2013
In three posts our newest special columnist Cindy Krum will take you through some essential mobile steps. Today part two. Find part one here.
Branded searches, (sometimes also called navigational searches) are a big deal for any SEO, but they are more important for mobile SEO because they make up such a high portion of mobile queries. Even if you are not focused on mobile, you should at least know what mobile results look like for your branded queries.
One of the most noticeable changes in mobile SERPS in the past year was the increased screen real estate for branded search results. In some cases, especially for online retailers with no local signals, we now have excessively long results for branded/navigational queries. Before this change, brands could have one, two or maybe even three indented results under their home page, or up to six sub-links under your brand name. The new mobile SERP makes results for a navigational query are more than double the vertical size of previous results.
In the Zappos example below, you can see that 6 categories are listed vertically with expansion arrows that offer even more links to deeper pages within the category. (In the example, ‘Men’s Shoes’ is expanded on the right image). So with the paid listing and the properly formatted sub-links it is 2 full screens for Zappos, before we scroll beyond their top ranking results. (And FYI, the top ranking results are followed by other branded results that are located on different domains, like Wikipedia, Twitter, iTunes, Facebook and their community site, ZapposInsights.com.)
query for three online-only department stores: eBay, Amazon and Zappos. Each result shows the list of 6 categories again, pushing other results far below the fold. When paid listings come into play, the results are even farther down. This is great for the brand and for the user because they can find what they are looking for much more quickly, and potentially skip two page loads by clicking on a deep link. On the other hand, this is very bad for competitors and other types of results, which are all pushed way down, far beyond where most mobile searchers will scroll.
The impact of the paid listing (PPC) and its formatting also has a significant impact on how much of the organic results are viewable above the fold.(And of course, the impact is even more evident when the results are viewed in landscape mode – not shown.)
When you throw a local signal into the mobile query this drawn-out vertical formatting goes away, and the 6 indented results are put into two columns, with just text sub-links below (with no urls displayed), and no ability to expand into subcategories.
Notice bellow the three branded queries for local department stores; they show very different results because these retailers have an offline presence with local signals (rather than online-only, like the ones above). You can see that the ‘search’ box which is embedded in the Dillard’s result actually pushes the map below the fold on the page. In comparing the Dillard’s result to the Walmart result, you can see that the Walmart result shows the top of the map, which will encourage searchers to scroll down to see more, but the Dillard’s result does not. You can also compare to see that the paid listing for Home Depot is pushing the indented sub-links below the fold, making it less likely that people will use them to quickly get to deeper pages on the site, but this is not happening in the Walmart and Dillard’s results.
If you are a local retailer, it is important to know what types of results drive the most revenue from mobile, and use that knowledge strategically. At a minimum, you should be doing test searches on the variations of your brand name to see how your mobile rankings look, and figure out what is working well for you, and what can be improved.
Originally published on July 3rd 2013