Last week, Colin wrote about the recent changes to the Google SERPs layout, and wondered whether Google did this to affect usability or to increase revenue from ad clicks. It’s a fair question to ask, given that Google receives over 99% of all of their revenues from the AdWords program.
Then I read a post at ClickZ by Zachary Rodgers addressing the affect this new layout had on one SEM company’s click rate. One would assume that with the ads closer to the organic results no matter what the user’s screen resolution (larger resolutions could shove the PPC ads to the extreme right), search users would be more likely to click on these ads due to their closer proximity to the user’s eyes.
Both of these posts evoked some of my curiosity. So I decided to select a number of higher traffic accounts we manage and apply the same test settings the ‘Search Agents’ used on these accounts to compare CTR from the two periods.
The results were very telling. The 15 or so accounts selected showed an overall increase in CTR higher than the results the ‘Search Agents’ uncovered.
Here are the ‘CTR’ specific numbers we crunched on our chart (respecting our clients’ privacy, of course).
An 11.02% Improvement in Click Thru Rate
I plan to revisit these numbers over the next few weeks to determine whether or not they are legitimate increases or simple increases due to a comparison of multiple weeks versus a few days.
But it seems that the new layout is having a positive affect on how search users interact with paid advertisements along the right side of SERPs.
As Colin suggested earlier, the move was likely done to both improve usability and revenue for the company. What this test shows is that the latter is certainly true!