As we know Google is always changing the way it serves results (whether organic or paid ads) in order to provide users with the most relevant content possible. These changes often lead to an increasingly more competitive environment for businesses and a need to work harder to appear higher in search rankings.
The latest changes by Google see the Google AdWords results appearing solely above and below the organic results, with the side bar being dedicated to Google’s Product Listing Ads (PLAs). PLA ads will still appear in the main section of the SERPs when there aren’t any AdWords ads available.
The main instances where these changes will be apparent are for “highly commercial enquiries”. These are search terms which express the intention to buy as opposed to those based more around the research or general browsing stages. So a search term such as “buy 40-inch TV” will show more AdWords ads along with PLAs on the right while a general search for “40-inch TV” will only provide PLA results.
This change is likely to have a number of effects on businesses, especially SMEs. We’ve looked at some of the issues below.
Fewer AdWords results being visible
While the changes implemented by Google may be designed to benefit the overall user experience, from a customer’s point of view, unfortunately they often come as a detriment to many businesses. The latest change now means that the total number of AdWords ads appearing on each given SERP is now less than before due to those ads on the right no longer present.
The exclusion of these ads now means that there is likely to be greater competition to appear in the AdWords ads on the first results page. This will undoubtedly drive up cost per click (CPC) rates and potentially squeeze smaller businesses out of the running.
Organic Results Being Pushed Further Down
As mentioned earlier, highly commercial search enquiries now yield 4 AdWords ads above the organic results. This means that organic results have now been pushed a little further down and in most cases below the break in the page, meaning users have to scroll down to actually see any organic results.
This could in effect reduce the number of clicks organic results receive, especially the further down the page they appear. Before the changes it was the first 5 organic results which yielded a significant click through however this could now be reduced to potentially even fewer organic results. Only time will tell the exact impact of these changes however the need to improve organic rankings through SEO is likely to further increase.
Greater onus being placed on Product Listing Ads
With fewer AdWords ads being shown and an increased level of competition to appear on the first page, now could be the time for more businesses to embrace Google PLAs. Not only are they appearing more consistently on Google at the present moment but they also offer a higher click through and conversion rate. The only downside however is that they’re only available to businesses which have an online shop.
An increase in competition is going to lead to an increase in the CPC rate for AdWords ads which is undoubtedly going to force most smaller businesses to rethink their paid search strategies. Many will be forced to either increase their keyword bids or place a greater onus on SEO and improving their organic search rankings, or alternatively settle for a lower placed ad and fewer clicks but work on improving their conversion rate.
If you’re an SME concerned about the impact that Google’s changes could have then we’d recommend you stop for a second and actually look at the how your website is performing. Keep an eye on traffic coming in from search engines along with how your paid ads are doing. The click through and conversion rates of your website should give you a better idea of where you need to improve if there is an issue. Regardless of what you decide to do be sure to measure whether it’ll actually be worthwhile.
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