Category: SEO

Nearly 50% of traffic from organic search – how does your site stack up?

As SEO and SEM consultants, we here at Bloom Digital are often asked by our clients how their web sites percentage of traffic from organic search stacks up to competitors. There is no one-size-fits-all answer, as many factors such as channel spend, product/ service type, branding etc. can have an influence. That said, we do believe that it is helpful to site owners to understand where their traffic distribution fits relative to others in their industry.

In a recent study by, it was discovered that on average nearly half of all site traffic originated from organic search.

Here is a chart that illustrates average traffic distribution by source.











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5 Web Sites Capture 20% of all Search Activity

Here are some intriguing facts from the 2013 Digital Marketer Report:

Five Websites captured 20 percent of all search activity in Q4 2012, while the top 500 captured nearly 50 percent. Expansion to the top 1,000 Websites reached nearly 75 percent, highlighting the challenges for marketers to reach potential customers through search, even for those with a large Web presence.

Here are the top 5 web sites to capture search clicks.

Websites Domain Q4 2012 – share of search clicks
Facebook 8.48%
YouTube 5.55%
Yahoo! 2.63%
Wikipedia 2.01% 1.40%

Source: Experian Marketing Services’ Hitwise

It goes without saying… In 2013 and beyond, marketers will have to work even harder to gain and maintain position in organic search results. They’ll also need to spend more effectively on paid search ads by knowing how their target customers use search, and by applying insight into their behaviors and attitudes to plan and execute better content and campaigns.

See more at:

Google Algorithm changes – August to October 2012

There is no end to the number of algorithm changes implemented by Google. They certainly keep us SEO folks on our toes. Here are the changes made since August 2012 taken from the web site (

Page Layout #2 — October 9, 2012

Google announced an update to its original page layout algorithm change back in January, which targeted pages with too many ads above the fold. It’s unclear whether this was an algorithm change or a Panda-style data refresh.

It’s “Top Heavy 2″ As Google Rolls Out Update To Its Page Layout Algorithm (SEL)

Google Page Layout Algorithm Officially Updated (SER)

Penguin #3 — October 5, 2012

After suggesting the next Penguin update would be major, Google released a minor Penguin data update, impacting “0.3% of queries”. Penguin update numbering was rebooted, similar to Panda – this was the 3rd Penguin release.

Google Penguin Update 3 Released, Impacts 0.3% Of English-Language Queries (SEL)

Google Released 3rd Penguin Update: Not Jarring Or Jolting (SER)

August/September 65-Pack — October 4, 2012

Google published their monthly (bi-monthly?) list of search highlights. The 65 updates for August and September included 7-result SERPs, Knowledge Graph expansion, updates to how “page quality” is calculated, and changes to how local results are determined.

Search quality highlights: 65 changes for August and September (Google)

Exact-Match Domain (EMD) Update — September 27, 2012

Google announced a change in the way it was handling exact-match domains (EMDs). This led to large-scale devaluation, reducing the presence of EMDs in the MozCast data set by over 10%. Official word is that this change impacted 0.6% of queries (by volume).

Google’s EMD Algo Update – Early Data (SEOmoz)

The EMD Update: Google Issues “Weather Report” Of Crack Down On Low Quality Exact Match Domains (SEL)

Panda #20 — September 27, 2012

Overlapping the EMD update, a fairly major Panda update (algo + data) rolled out, officially affecting 2.4% of queries. As the 3.X series was getting odd, industry sources opted to start naming Panda updates in order (this was the 20th).

20th Google Panda Algorithm Update: Fairly Major (SER)

How Do You Know If Google Panda Or EMD Hurt Your Site? (SER)

Panda 3.9.2 — September 18, 2012

Google rolled out another Panda refresh, which appears to have been data-only. Ranking flux was moderate but not on par with a large-scale algorithm update.

Google Rolls Out Panda 3.9.2 Refresh (SER)

Panda Update 3.92 Rolling Out (Or Is It Panda 20 Time?) (SEL)

Panda 3.9.1 — August 20, 2012

Google rolled out yet another Panda data update, but the impact seemed to be fairly small. Since the Panda 3.0 series ran out of numbers at 3.9, the new update was dubbed 3.9.1.

Confirmed: Google Panda 3.9.1 Update (SER)

Google Panda Refresh On August 19th: Version 3.9.1 (SEL)

7-Result SERPs — August 14, 2012

Google made a significant change to the Top 10, limiting it to 7 results for many queries. Our research showed that this change rolled out over a couple of days, finally impacting about 18% of the keywords we tracked.

SERP Crowding & Shrinkage: It’s Not Your Imagination (SEOmoz)

7 Is The New 10? Google Showing Fewer Results & More From Same Domain (SEL)

DMCA Penalty — August 10, 2012

Google announced that they would start penalizing sites with repeat copyright violations, probably via DMCA takedown requests. Timing was stated as “starting next week” (8/13?).

An update to our search algorithms (Google)

The Emanuel Update: Google Will Penalize Sites Repeatedly Accused Of Copyright Infringement (SEL)

June/July 86-Pack — August 10, 2012

After a summer hiatus, the June and July Search Quality Highlights were rolled out in one mega-post. Major updates included Panda data and algorithm refreshes, an improved rank-ordering function (?), a ranking boost for “trusted sources”, and changes to site clustering.

Search quality highlights: 86 changes for June and July (Google)

Google’s June-July Updates: Site Clustering, Sitelinks Changes & Focus On Page Quality (SEL)

(Source: SEOMoz,

Top Google Algorithm changes in 2011

Google changes its algorythms frequently. Nearly once a month there is a major change in requirements followed by several small enhancements to algorithms in between. The info graph below will give you an idea of just how often and how major the changes are.

SEO specialists are training to keep on top of all the changes and provide recommendations that make sense and enable your site to stay at the top of organic search results. Contact Bloom today!

Recent Google algorithm changes

Google makes constant changes to its algorithm…how it reads and evaluates a web pages relevance, quality and ultimately deserved rankings. It’s part of Google’s ongoing quest to provide the most relevant, current and high quality search results for each and every query made via its search and display network properties. In 2011, there have been over 500 algorithms updates. Here is a list of ten improvements just from the last two weeks as reported by Matt Cutts in the Google Inside Search blog…(please note, references to ‘we’ are referring to Google)

  • Cross-language information retrieval updates: For queries in languages where limited web content is available (Afrikaans, Malay, Slovak, Swahili, Hindi, Norwegian, Serbian, Catalan, Maltese, Macedonian, Albanian, Slovenian, Welsh, Icelandic), we will now translate relevant English web pages and display the translated titles directly below the English titles in the search results. This feature was available previously in Korean, but only at the bottom of the page. Clicking on the translated titles will take you to pages translated from English into the query language.
  • Snippets with more page content and less header/menu content: This change helps us choose more relevant text to use in snippets. As we improve our understanding of web page structure, we are now more likely to pick text from the actual page content, and less likely to use text that is part of a header or menu.
  • Better page titles in search results by de-duplicating boilerplate anchors: We look at a number of signals when generating a page’s title. One signal is the anchor text in links pointing to the page. We found that boilerplate links with duplicated anchor text are not as relevant, so we are putting less emphasis on these. The result is more relevant titles that are specific to the page’s content.
  • Length-based autocomplete predictions in Russian: This improvement reduces the number of long, sometimes arbitrary query predictions in Russian. We will not make predictions that are very long in comparison either to the partial query or to the other predictions for that partial query. This is already the practice in English.
  • Extending application rich snippets: We recently announced rich snippets for applications. This enables people who are searching for software applications to see details, like cost and user reviews, within their search results. This change extends the coverage of application rich snippets, so they will be available more often.
  • Retiring a signal in Image search: As the web evolves, we often revisit signals that we launched in the past that no longer appear to have a significant impact. In this case, we decided to retire a signal in Image Search related to images that had references from multiple documents on the web.
  • Fresher, more recent results: As we announced just over a week ago, we’ve made a significant improvement to how we rank fresh content. This change impacts roughly 35 percent of total searches (around 6-10% of search results to a noticeable degree) and better determines the appropriate level of freshness for a given query.
  • Refining official page detection: We try hard to give our users the most relevant and authoritative results. With this change, we adjusted how we attempt to determine which pages are official. This will tend to rank official websites even higher in our ranking.
  • Improvements to date-restricted queries: We changed how we handle result freshness for queries where a user has chosen a specific date range. This helps ensure that users get the results that are most relevant for the date range that they specify.
  • Prediction fix for IME queries: This change improves how Autocomplete handles IME queries (queries which contain non-Latin characters). Autocomplete was previously storing the intermediate keystrokes needed to type each character, which would sometimes result in gibberish predictions for Hebrew, Russian and Arabic.

Before you go wild tuning your anchor text or thinking about your web presence for Icelandic users, please remember that this is only a sampling of the hundreds of changes we make to our search algorithms in a given year, and even these changes may not work precisely as you’d imagine.

Mobile and localized paid search on the rise

In early 2011, SEMPO published a report that indicates companies are spending more on paid mobile search than ever before, actually doubling from the same period last year.

Localized paid search is becoming the most popular, with the study finding that 22% of respondents’ budgets were spent locally on targeted paid search.  In the US the same question was asked to companies and it found that a greater proportion of company’s’ pay per click marketing budgets were being allocated to local search, with actual figures being 37% for agency respondents and 23% for clients.

Some other key findings from the study include the following:

  • The rise of the mobile internet is the trend which is regarded as having the most impact on search marketing, with more than three-quarters of companies (79%) deeming it as ‘highly significant’ or ‘significant’.
  • The use of social networks for marketing continues to grow. The percentage of company respondents who say they use Facebook for marketing now stands at 84%, up from 73% last year.
  • More companies are outsourcing search and social media. Only 44% of companies are now carrying out search engine optimization in-house, compared to 51% last year. Only 55% are doing social media marketing in-house, compared to 62% a year ago.
  • Companies and agencies are increasingly using third party bid management technology for paid search marketing. Just under half of responding companies conducting search engine marketing rely on basic tools.
  • Google’s dominance as a search engine is clear from both advertiser and agency results, with the vast majority of companies (95%) paying to advertise on Google AdWords.

(Source:, May 2011)

Set a preferred domain for search

So what is a preferred domain? The preferred domain is the one that you would liked used to index your site’s pages (sometimes this is referred to as the canonical domain). Links may point to your site using both the www and non-www versions of the URL (for instance, and The preferred domain is the version that you want used for your site in the search results. By not setting a preferred domain, your www. and non-www version of the web site may be seen as duplicate content. And this would be bad!

If for some reason you cannot find your web site in Google when you type in Try instead. Google may see the non-www version as the preferred domain.

So how can you set a preferred domain? You can set a preferred domain in Google Webmaster Tools. This is usually the first thing we check for our SEO clients. Here’s how to do it:

To specify your preferred domain (Source: Google):

1. On the Webmaster Tools Home page, click the site you want.
2. Under Site configuration, click Settings.
3. In the Preferred domain section, select the option you want.

You may need to reverify ownership of your sites. Because setting a preferred domain impacts both crawling and indexing, we need to ensure that you own both versions. Typically, both versions point to the same physical location, but this is not always the case. Generally, once you have verified one version of the domain, we can easily verify the other using the original verification method. However, if you’ve removed the file, meta tag, or DNS record, you’ll need to repeat the verification steps.

Note: Once you’ve set your preferred domain, you may want to use a 301 redirect to redirect traffic from your non-preferred domain, so that other search engines and visitors know which version you prefer.