Mobile CTR Shakeup

Last week the RKG Blog posted a study with some – frankly – alarming findings regarding mobile click-through rates. The biggest takeaways were organic CTRs were dropping in mobile searches for brands due to: 1) Google changing the placement of their Local Pack in search results, and 2) due to the placement of ads in mobile SERPs.

Looking through the data for one of my clients that has a strong brand and multiple locations across the U.S., we see the same trends emerging. In the table below you will see the top 25 branded mobile search queries for our client and the CTRs from the last 28 days compared to the previous period. The info was pulled from Search Console and the searches themselves have been edited after pulling the report to protect the client’s identity:

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As you can see above, the majority of the branded searches have seen a decrease in CTR in mobile searches.

Now that we know the causes of the drops in CTRs we must evaluate what can be done in order to correct our course without slipping into a tailspin. Specifically how do we combat the drop in mobile traffic? And can we recover potentially lost traffic in other areas? But first of all:

DON’T PANIC

If you are seeing the same trend, do not panic. As marketers we have a tendency to overreact to statistics like the ones shown above. As a result we can overreact, over correct and – in several cases – make things worse. Much like hitting a patch of ice while driving in the winter, in order to truly recover you have to steer into the skid.

**It should be noted that our SEO strategy for this particular client has been to focus on bolstering non-branded traffic, which may influence numbers.**

MOBILE PPC

The best advice the RKG blog post gives is to ensure that your mobile PPC is targeting your brand. Now that mobile ads are pushing organic results below the fold it is best to invest in mobile PPC to ensure that your site is showing at the top of mobile SERPs. Ranking in the first position for your brand in mobile won’t matter if ads are pushing your business below the fold.

At Rebuild Nation, we have been investing in Mobile PPC and the table below shows that even though our branded mobile traffic has dropped,  our client’s paid branded mobile traffic has seen a significant increase – compared to the previous period:

NOTE: The comparison period days were selected to match in order to reflect the traffic pattern the site experiences. (i.e. peak traffic during the week, low traffic over the weekend.)

This reaffirms what the post advises: if you’re not investing in mobile PPC, now is the time to start. Google has been placing an emphasis on mobile search for some time now with updates like mobilgeddon and specifically the updates detailed above. If you aren’t ranking well in organic mobile search results then ranking in well in Mobile PPC can help to ensure that you aren’t losing mobile traffic.

LOCAL SEO

This study showcases how important local SEO is in today’s SEO landscape. The placement of the local pack results above all other organic results it is more crucial than ever to have a verified and optimized Google My Business citation. But only optimizing only one citation is not going to help you rank well in local search results. Several factors can influence local search results and if you’re not active in local SEO you can miss out on capturing a large portion of your audience.

In the table shared at the beginning of this article you can see that the majority of branded searches that increased their CTRs were local searches. We have invested significant hours in the local SEO for these locations and it is encouraging to see that our branded local mobile searches are retaining clicks in most cases.

We have lost some local branded mobile traffic, see below:

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NOTE: The comparison period days were selected to match in order to reflect the traffic pattern the site experiences. (i.e. peak traffic during the week, low traffic over the weekend.)

Though the loss has not been as significant as branded searches without a location, see below:

NOTE: The comparison period days were selected to match in order to reflect the traffic pattern the site experiences. (i.e. peak traffic during the week, low traffic over the weekend.)
NOTE: The comparison period days were selected to match in order to reflect the traffic pattern the site experiences. (i.e. peak traffic during the week, low traffic over the weekend.)

But as we continue our local SEO efforts we can expect to retain and hopefully increase the CTRs of branded mobile searches. We are already seeing promising signs in all local organic mobile traffic,  see below:

NOTE: The comparison period days were selected to match in order to reflect the traffic pattern the site experiences. (i.e. peak traffic during the week, low traffic over the weekend.)
NOTE: The comparison period days were selected to match in order to reflect the traffic pattern the site experiences. (i.e. peak traffic during the week, low traffic over the weekend.)

OVERVIEW

In order to combat the loss of branded traffic the best course would be to invest in branded mobile PPC campaigns and Local SEO. Simply optimizing your Google My Business citation will not ensure that you will show up in the three pack though, as the post shows. To truly succeed at local SEO you must ensure NAP consistency on all major citation sources, submit your NAP info to an aggregator to ensure the greatest consistency across the web, submit your business to niche citation sources – citation sources specific to your business, and also link to your locations pages. It is also important to distinguish each location from one another.

But above all else DON’T PANIC. As we have come to know, Google is given to changing its products any time they see fit. This may all be momentary, and even if it isn’t there are other ways to regain the potentially lost traffic. Remember this is largely affecting branded mobile traffic. You still have desktop traffic and non branded traffic to all devices. Despite seeing loses in branded mobile traffic, our non-branded mobile traffic has increased in the last month. See below:

NOTE: The comparison period days were selected to match in order to reflect the traffic pattern the site experiences. (i.e. peak traffic during the week, low traffic over the weekend.)
NOTE: The comparison period days were selected to match in order to reflect the traffic pattern the site experiences. (i.e. peak traffic during the week, low traffic over the weekend.)

Our organic desktop traffic has also increased in the last month:

NOTE: The comparison period days were selected to match in order to reflect the traffic pattern the site experiences. (i.e. peak traffic during the week, low traffic over the weekend.)
NOTE: The comparison period days were selected to match in order to reflect the traffic pattern the site experiences. (i.e. peak traffic during the week, low traffic over the weekend.)

Remember this is only one section of your traffic being effected. If you put in place a holistic SEO strategy, as we have for our client, the mobile traffic that is potentially lost can be made up in other areas.