Both PPC and SEO Campaigns Look set to Suffer from Google’s SERP Change, which means you might need to Explore Alternative Marketing Options
Google recently revealed that it would no longer show ads on the right hand side of its search engine results pages (SERPs). At the same time, a number of other changes were also confirmed, which included:
- Four text ads instead of three in the mainline area above organic listings for highly commercial queries
- Three text ads at the bottom of the SERPs
- The total number of text ads appearing on a SERP shrinking from as many as 11 to a maximum of seven
- Product listing ad blocks and Knowledge Panels still showing in the right rail for relevant queries
In a statement, Google explained: “We’ve been testing this layout for a long time, so some people might see it on a very small number of commercial queries. We’ll continue to make tweaks, but this is designed for highly commercial queries where the layout is able to provide more relevant results for people searching and better performance for advertisers.”
Matt Lawson, Director of Performance Ads Marketing for Google, added: “We are making this update to improve the user experience on Google Search and to make that experience consistent across desktop, tablet and mobile. By showing fewer ads, our search experience matches how people actually engage with Google.”
But what do these changes mean for the future of your PPC campaign and organic search efforts?
Shopping ads will Remain
If you are an ecommerce marketer, then you can breathe a sigh of relief, for the time being at least. Google will continue to show shopping adverts on the right hand side of the SERPs.
What’s more, Google’s new layout could even work in your favour. Owing to the fact there will be fewer ads to compete with, you should benefit from lower CPC rates. However, a lot will depend on your niche.
Rise in Advertising Costs
Even though Lawson says Google experiments and early returns have noticed no appreciable changes to costs-per-click in aggregate, he does advise keeping an eye on your bids, budgets, and average position.
This is because positions 5 to 8 simply won’t cut it anymore, you may as well bid for page two. A couple of years ago, a study by Chitika revealed that page 1 results garnered 92 per cent of all traffic from the average search, with traffic dropping off by 95 per cent for page 2.
So, in spite of Lawson’s claims, there is a very strong chance you will need to up your bids if you want to keep generating traffic. Users won’t scroll down to the bottom of the page to see your ad when competitors are easily clickable at the top.
SEO’s Loss is PPC’s Gain
With Google now showing 4 ads at the top instead of the previous 3, organic listings have been pushed down a lot further. This isn’t necessarily a problem for PPC customers, unless you are running an SEO campaign alongside your advertising activity.
Along with having to scroll down to only see reaching organic results, online users are also more likely to click the first link according to a study produced by Search Engine Watch. Therefore, converting through organic listings just became much more difficult.
The fact that Google has removed the slide shade between ads and organic results doesn’t help matters either, as some users might not be able to tell the difference between the two. Although a yellow ‘Ad’ box appears, this is still good news for PPC and bad for SEO.
How will Google’s Changes Affect you as a Business?
It all comes down to your niche. If you are an ecommerce business, you should benefit from Google’s changes. However, if you are a business that operates a service, such as legal advice, you might need to reconsider your PPC and SEO options.
One thing is for sure – you are now less likely to achieve conversions through organic listings alone. For this reason, it might be worth shifting your attention away from SEO and investing more time, effort, and resources into the new format for PPC ads.
What other Options are Available?
If you are not a fan of Google’s changes and believe it is simply trying to get more businesses to pay for advertising, you could try Bing instead. Microsoft is constantly finding new ways to raise the awareness and improve the functionality of its search engine.
For example, Bing appears in the Windows 10 Start Menu and can be used to find web content on the Xbox One. Unlike Google, it still displays ads on the right hand side of results pages. Thus, it is well worth a look for your PPC campaign if you will struggle to meet the demands and costs of Google’s changes.
Another option is social media advertising. More and more people are using Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and other platforms to discover the latest offers from their favourite brands and to receive recommendations from friends. One of the biggest advantages of paying for promotion on social media is the targeting options, which can be based for things like demographics, location, and interests.
Rather than trying to grab the attention of users through endless social media activity, which might not even have the desired effect, it is often far more beneficial to pay for advertising that will definitely be displayed in front of the eyes of your target market.
With Google’s SERP changes, every business with a PPC or SEO footprint will need to re-think their outlook and activity. The removal of right hand ads will increase competition and as a result cause advertising costs to rise, which might force some businesses to abandon PPC altogether.
However, before you turn your attention towards SEO, remember that the addition of a fourth ad above organic listings will make it even harder to achieve clicks this way. Therefore, it could be time to explore other marketing methods instead.
Even though Bing might not be able to topple Google for quite some time, it is a viable option for organisations wanting to keep PPC advertising costs down. Alternatively, consider the power of social media, as the influence that Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram users can have on your conversions is immense.