Last month, Google announced that its search result pages for desktops will no longer display text ads in the right sidebar. Instead, up to four text ads are now being displayed above organic search results, and three ads appear at the bottom of the page. The reason behind Google’s update was to make the user experience more consistent across all devices. While this certainly de-clutters the look of the desktop search engine results page (SERP) it affects online advertisers that now have to compete for ad space on the top and bottom of search results. Many digital marketing professionals were shocked by Google’s recent change. However, the reality is that the company has been testing variations of this new layout for a few years.
With changes to the layout resulting in fewer ads per page, many are rightfully concerned that advertising costs will jump due to supply and demand. Digital advertising experts are currently weighing in on this, and only time will tell exactly what the impact will be over the long term. While there are some uncertainties with the new layout, there are some unwavering facts worth considering:
The Change Only Impacts Desktop Searches
The SERP layout on your smartphone will not look any different. It’s important to note that more than 50 percent of all searches are now conducted on mobile devices.
Top Positions Get Higher Click-Through Rates
Advertisers that are able to secure top positions will enjoy higher click-through rates than when their ads were on the right side of the page.
Ads Appear More “Native”
Because ads now blend in with organic search results, they are more likely to produce click-throughs.
Lower Position Ads Will Be Less Effective
Few users will actually scroll down to see the ads at the bottom of a page. Thus, first page and top of page bid minimums may change quickly. Advertisers are wise to update their bid-to-position strategies.
Organic Search Has Become More Difficult
With this change, Google has made the paid position #4 the new organic position #1. Organic search results will now be located below the fold on many desktop computers and tablets – especially on highly commercial queries where there may be four ads before the first organic position. Space on search pages has been diminishing for years with the steady addition of news, images, ads and more. This change has simply continued the trend of reducing available space for organic search results, and because of this, SEO strategies will also need to be adapted accordingly.
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