Back in February, Google made some changes to their search engine results page (SERP). The side ads that Google used to display for users have disappeared. Google now has four paid ads above the organic listings and three on the bottom of the page. According to research conducted by IProspect UK, the banner ads generate 14x more clicks then the same side ads. Therefore moving ads towards the top banner will result in better performing campaigns due to higher click-throughs, higher quality scores and lower cost per click (CPC).
With fewer ad positions, this allows advertisers to be more accurate in reporting on the average ad position. When there were 11 ads, some would appear in a highly visible spot at the top of the page, while others were below the fold. The click rate varied considerably depending on that placement, so ads appearing below would drag down the average of ads that were higher on the page, which would skew the reporting results. Reducing the number of ad spots helps advertisers to be more accurate in analyzing the cost and benefits of ad investments.
What does this mean for Organic rankings
If your website already has good organic rankings on Google, your site will now appear lower on the page. This will push your result for your website below the fold. This could be a disadvantage to your traffic because a lot of searchers do not go below the fold when searching. As a result, businesses that previously relied on organic rankings may now be increasing their PPC budget in order to remain visible on a SERP.
Steps you can take to combat this change
- Clean up your ad campaigns: Boosting your campaign’s quality score and removing poorly performing keywords and irrelevant content will help keep your CPC lower and help you to remain competitive.
- Focus more on mobile ads: Increasing your mobile adword bid adjustments will help improve your presence in mobile searches.
- Be creative with your marketing: Using other methods such as Facebook and LinkedIn ads will help you expand your presence and could help boost your traffic and clicks. Also try advertising through Bing and Yahoo—it may give you a boost even though their market share is relatively small.
Down the road
As an advertiser, the balancing act of PPC and SEO is going to become more critical. With the picture below you can see four ads appearing at the top, 8 Google Merchant Ads on the right and one Google My Business listing. Therefore there are zero organic results above the fold, this will make it more difficult for SEO traffic to stand out.
Furthermore with PPC clicks becoming increasing expensive, you’ll want to work even harder on SEO campaigns. Monitoring both your SEO and PPC campaigns closely will be crucial to balancing the two effectively. Having a higher amount of PPC ads can boost traffic to your site, which will positively impact your SEO.
I definitely overlooked this SRPC change which I’m ashamed of, but I guess it’s good that I now am aware of the changes. Seems like a lot of SEO updates need to happen in the near future, the most frustrating thing about the internet is that it moves so fast you can’t keep up with it. New things pop up every single day and you have to be on top of every little change to perfect your SEO skills. It’s a double-edged sword.