Acquiring Traffic

So Long Google Right Rail! Franchisors Rejoice!

Eli Robinson
Wednesday, March 02 2016

Wave Goodbye

Although I doubt anyone out there has been living under a rock for the last decade, but just in case I have a stray reader or two, I wanted to remind everyone that GOOGLE IS A BIG DEAL!

To go along with being the second most valuable company in the U.S. as of March 1st, 2016, they are responsible for an insane proportion of internet activity in this country. According to Statista, Google hit its all-time high in U.S. search queries in January 2016 when they handled almost 69% of all search queries domestically.

January 2016 U.S. Search Engine Rankings

And frankly, even that number under-inflate their influence as Google searches are generally younger and more informed i.e. a more important demographic moving forward.

That being said, for being such a ubiquitous presence, Google has an elegantly simple front-end product, the search results page. So when Google makes changes to its results pages, it has implications for billions of people around the world and the trillions of Google searches that happen every year.

If you’re interested in other major changes that Google has made in recent years, check out this article on Mobilegeddon for Franchises.

Last week, Google dropped a new major bombshell by announcing that the right rail of the page would no longer be used for advertisements. (There are a few exceptions to this rule, but they don’t really affect the franchise world.)

So a franchise results page that used to look like this:

2014 Google SERP and ads for franchise keyword

Will now look like this:

2016 Google SERP and ads for franchise keyword

In the search engine marketing world, this is a huge deal. The number of impressions available for sale on Google searches has likely been slashed significantly. (To be clear, people rarely clicked on the right rail, so it’s unlikely that clicks are going to be affected as much.)

But here’s why I think that franchising stands to gain quite a bit from this change. Franchising, as a concept, is very confusing. The average American interested in franchising is unlikely to be very knowledgeable about the topic at all. You could compare this to something like movies or sports or locations or animals or history or the other millions of things that people search for every day.

So here’s what I see happening:

  1. Search engines become less noisy for potential franchisees – Simply having less on the page is going to encourage people to keep the search for information going. When you have so many different options, you amplify the paradox of choice. Most important for franchises is that searches take any action. Opting out is bad for everyone.

  2. Searchers click on a fewer total number of ads – If you’re buying ads on a CPC basis, then you’d prefer that a searcher clicks on a single ad rather than multiple. Competition for attention after you’ve been charged for a click is bad. Because franchising is a confusing topic, searchers are more likely to click on multiple advertisements.

  3. SEO further trumps SEM as a marketing strategy for impression focused campaigns – As impressions become more difficult to achieve via SEM, franchises focused on impressions are going to have to shift resources toward SEO. This usually means more valuable information than SEM as gaining in the organic rankings is not as easy as simply paying more to Google. More SEO focus means a more intelligent potential franchisee.

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