The old adage says, the only constant in life is change. Or was it death and taxes? Either way, we would submit that there is one other constant that those working in digital marketing can expect with the reliability of Old Faithful; and that is Google making changes to the Search Engine Results Pages (SERP). Just last Friday a big change came down the pipeline from Mountain View, California. It came in the form of huge changes to Google Ads. Starting last week Google will no longer show paid advertising along the right column of the SERP. This means that the only place that Google will show ads to its users is at the top of the page and at the bottom. What does this mean? Well, in short it means that the wild wild west of the internet just got a little more interesting. Join us as we look at some of the ramifications of the changes to Google ads.
Changes to Google Ads, and What It Means to YouIn order to truly understand what all of these changes to Google Ads mean lets first highlight all of the changes. Starting last week, for users searching Google via desktop will see the following changes:
- No text ads will be served on the right side of the search results, for desktop users.
- Four text ads instead of three will now appear above the organic search results for “highly commercial queries.” It seems that Google is classifying these as search queries that represent an intent to purchase. Phrases such as “hotels in New York City” or “car insurance” were offered as examples of these commercial type queries.
- Three text ads will appear at the bottom of the search engine results page. This shrinks the maximum number of search results from eleven to seven in total.
So what does this mean? In short, there will be fewer opportunities for advertisers to appear on the SERP. Advertisers will have to work diligently to ensure their campaigns are maximized for relevancy, optimum budget, and targeted keywords. This means that the ads that are appearing will be the most relevant for the Google user. This also means that the novice dabbler in adwords may find themselves up against a pretty expensive learning curve. (For details on the changes, see here.)
Why would Google make these changes? The answer is pretty easy. Google is constantly evolving to provide the absolutely most relevant results for its users. As the coding becomes more complex, Google is able to provide better, more dynamic results. When searching for a movie, for example, Google is able to use the right-hand side to offer more in-depth information about the plot line, cast, and critic reviews. It is able to integrate the social media profiles for the movie, seamlessly. It is able to offer suggestions for similar movies as well. This is far more valuable to Google because it is more valuable to the people searching for such a movie. This is true for a myriad of searches, from restaurants to retail, from shopping to research. By freeing up the right side for more data and forcing advertisers to get smarter with their ads, Google is making their search engine better for the end user.
In the months and years to come, we can only expect more changes from Google. Right now these changes to Google Ads only affect those searching on computers and not mobile devices. In reality, this change, while it seems momentous, will only affect about 7.3 percent of search queries as desktop search results only makeup half of all search queries and the side position only represented 14.6% of all ads shown. (For more on the math, see here.)
The key lesson to be learned with these changes? Well, there are a couple. The first and most important lesson is to understand that Google is an ever changing entity, which means SEO is an ever changing industry. What worked yesterday may not work tomorrow. That is why it is important to work with SEO companies that are constantly learning and evolving to stay on top of these changes. The second lesson, don’t panic. Really, don’t panic when Google makes a really big change. In this case, was initially seemed like a catastrophe for pay-per-click marketers can really be an opportunity. This is a chance to do better, not just by Google standards, but in creating highly relevant conversions. And that third lesson? Well, if Google is as ever changing as the ocean then you need a company that knows how to navigate those waters, a company that can ride the tides of change. A company that has built the ebb and flow of SEO into its very name. You need Seafoam Media.