Google SERP Layout Changes: Big Changes Mean Big Opportunities​

Google has made a number of significant changes to its search engine results page (SERP) over recent years. From the introduction of product listing ads, to the use of Knowledge Graph and structured data results, to integration with social media and news posts, Google has altered the layout of result pages to both enhance the quality of search results and optimize user experience. Last week, Google once again made another change to improve user experience by limiting advertising clutter on SERPs. For highly competitive and commercial search terms on desktops, Google now only shows four paid advertisements above organic results and three advertisements below organic results, effectively removing the right column of ads that used to show for a given search term. This change has lots of implications for online marketers, PPC managers, and business owners alike.

1) Higher Quality Ads - The area above organic results has always been a hotly contested area for advertisers because of the visibility it provides, as well as the added opportunity to use ad extensions. Ad extensions provide opportunities for advertisers to better describe their product or service and to drive high quality traffic to their website. Considering four ad result layouts were relatively rare in the past, the added slots for advertisers to show ads above organic results provides opportunities to create high-quality, specific advertisements and fully leverage ad extensions to guide potential customers to your website.


2) Organic Impact - The additional space used for ads above organic results effectively pushes organic results further down a SERP towards the fold. For smaller companies that may struggle ranking on the first page for highly competitive terms, this change presents a great opportunity to create a revamped AdWords campaign that can make up for any lost organic traffic. But for companies with a strong SEO presence and high organic rankings, this change could negatively impact your organic CTRs. It’s important to revisit both your title tags and meta descriptions to make sure they are captivating enough to capture the attention of searchers and draw clicks away from ads above and below organic results.


3) CPC Impact - This is still up in the air among industry professionals. Simple economic logic implies that a decrease in overall advertising space will increase demand for top ad spots, driving up cost-per-click for advertisers. But at the same time, Google’s treatment of ads on the right side of search results may indicate that historical click-through-rates were low enough to justify removing them altogether. The removal of these ads may lead to increased clicks on ads in the top spots, leading to lower long-term cost-per-click rates. Only time will tell if cost-per-click rates see significant changes, and this will vary from industry to industry, but it's still important to keep these implications in mind when planning any future online advertising budget.

This most recent change from Google once again demonstrates that managing a PPC advertising account is a dynamic, hands-on job that requires constant changes and tweaks in order to keep up with a changing competitive landscape. Whether you’ve fallen out of managing your PPC account, or are new to online advertising altogether, Visual Data Systems can provide the management and online marketing solutions that can increase your return-on-investment from your advertising campaigns. From our AdWords and Bing Ads certified individuals, to our demonstrated success generating significant revenue for our PPC clients, Visual Data Systems has the expertise required to take your advertising campaigns to the next level. Learn more here or contact us for more information!