Coming to a SERP Near You
If you use AdWords to drive qualified sales leads, there’s a major change to Google ad placement. Ads usually placed on the right side of a search page will move to the bottom. If you’re like many of my clients, elimination of right-side ads will have a major shake-up to bidding strategies and account performance. Let’s take a look at this recent announcement and what it means to online advertising.
What Will Happen
Google will remove ads on the right side of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Search Engine Watch reported the Google ad placement change would start on Friday, February 19. However, we haven’t seen it yet. It is expected to roll out worldwide. Most likely here’s what will occur:
- Our desktop experience will be more like what we see on mobile.
- Rather than one or two ads that appear before organic search results, the number will increase to three or four.
- Ads that previously appeared in positions 4 – 8 will show at the bottom of the page.
- The knowledge graph and product listing ads (PLAs) are expected to remain near the top, although it’s unclear if they remain on the right side.
- Users will have to scroll further down to see non-paid search results.
Why the SERP Ad Placement Change?
Revenue. Plain and simple, Google is maximizing their income by putting more pressure on the available ad space. Advertisers who want to be at the top of the page have to be willing to pay for the privilege. Google continues to test click-through-rates and revenue generation. Perhaps consumers are more desensitized or frustrated with online ads. It will be particularly interesting to see how this Google ad placement change will affect user behavior, encouraging searchers to look deeper on the page for what they want.
My Predictions & Strategies to Consider
Obviously, the ad placement change will put more bidding pressure on the top of the page ads. Cost-Per-Click (CPC) will increase. Ad budgets will either have to increase or ad campaigns will need to narrow their targeting in order to achieve the same CTR (Click Through Rate). Or, you need to dramatically improve quality scores (matching relevant ads to landing pages focused on a positive user experience). Will Google change the Ad Rank formula with this latest design change? I don’t think so.
Basically there will be more competition for the top spots, and thus bids will have to increase in order to win. If your wallet can’t compete, then you’ve got to bid on alternative, lower-cost keywords in order make up the volume difference.
While AdWords is the largest online advertising option, they aren’t the only option. If you can’t afford to get into the top three or four spots on Google, consider advertising elsewhere. This is an excellent time to test out other networks such as video ads on YouTube or Bing ads. Perhaps Microsoft will use this opportunity to woo advertisers and increase their market share.
Lastly, don’t forget your SEO strategy. Getting into top position with organic search will be even more precious. If your organic visibility is already solid, excellent; just don’t rest on your laurels. If your visibility needs to grow, focus on longer-tail keywords. In either case, remember that SEO is a long-term marketing strategy. It takes consistent effort. Add new, relevant and shareable content. Add inbound links from credible and authoritative resources.
Are you excited about the Google ad placement change? Or, are you dreading it?
How can we help?
Concerned that your AdWords campaign isn’t optimized? Want to online advertising to your marketing mix?
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