Study Shows How Rich Media Effects SEO and CTR

Peter Roesler, President - Web Marketing Pros

By Peter Roesler

President, Web Marketing Pros

It’s important to remember that SEO and content marketing are two sides of the same coin. Marketers use SEO to bring potential customers to content that can turn into leads or sales. And marketers use the content to help build their SEO strategy. There’s a wide array of content types that marketers can create and this also has an effect on SEO. New data from Blue Nile Research suggests that using rich media content can have a positive SEO effect.

There are a lot situations where Google will give search results that have more information than the basic text and link for a URL. Examples of situations with rich media include star reviews, photos, Google Map listings, videos and the like. Blue Nile Research performed a study to see how these extra bits of information affect the click through rate on search result pages.

BN11According to Blue Nile Research, eight out of 10 high volume keywords have rich media in their search results. Their study results suggests that even when links with rich media elements appear further down the page, they outperform standard links in the number one position.

Blue Nile’s research suggests that links with rich snippets in the second position of search result pages have a 61 percent click capture rate, compared to a 48 percent click share for standard links. Normally, a standard link in the second position of a search result page would only receive a 35 percent click share. So the rich media could result in a nearly doubled click share for a particular link.

“Ever since search emerged as the dominant method to capture traffic and customers online, marketers have aimed for the top–position 1–of the results page. It does remain generally true that the higher up one’s brand appears in the search results, the greater the CTR. However, the results of this study are hard to ignore: Enhancement of search results with rich-media such as star reviews, map packs, author profiles and more may now challenge position 1’s long-held status,” concludes Blue Nile Research.

To be fair, the Blue Nile Research is based more on test and sampling rather than an analysis of raw data from Google. In one scenario they tests, Blue Nile Research replicated an article search (“articles by John Smith”).  They then showed a group of respondents a search-results page with the target URL and author image in position 2, a page with the target URL and no author image in position 2, and a page with the target URL and no author image in position 1.

When they analyzed the results, they found that when the target search result was media enhanced in position 2, it captured 46 percent of clicks compared to 10 percent captured by the result in position 1.  When the target result was unenhanced in position 2, it captured 16 percent of clicks, a 30 percent lift.

The study’s authors write, “These results demonstrate the strong impact of an author image on the decision to click when conducting an article/content search; even when though the author image was not in position 1, it still received nearly one half of all clicks because of the imagery.Interestingly, in this scenario, the distribution of clicks down the search results pages tells a story about the click-decision process.”

The problem with these results is that Google ended its authorship program, so most author photos no longer show up. The study does show the value of rich media, it’s just that one of the variables they tested isn’t really being used anymore. However, there are a lot of ways that marketers can get rich media included in search results. For example, as was discussed in a previous article, Google’s Local Pack gives small local businesses a chance to get more information about their business in search results. And as was covered in another article, data has shown the format does result in more referral traffic.

Now that the Google Authorship program is gone, marketers can leverage their Google My Business to provide things like images, videos, information and more than can show up in branded keyword searches and other search queries. Similarly, including content on platforms like YouTube can help get videos in search results. Marketers could consider doing a video answer to a commonly asked question. That way, their video might get shown in search results.

There are a lot of ways that marketers can still use rich media, and this study shows that it’s worth the effort.

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