On Monday, February 22nd Google made a big change to how ads are displayed on the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Effective worldwide there will no longer be right hand ads on the SERP.
Previously Google AdWords paid ads appeared as the top 3 positions above the organic content, down the entire right hand side of the page and at the bottom. These right hand ads allowed for more advertisers to have a presence on the coveted first page of Google. Due to the auction format of how AdWords works, clients with smaller budgets often found visibility in these lower right hand ads because they were usually significantly cheaper than the highly competitive top 3 positions.
With the new SERP layout there will now only be 3 ads at the top of the SERP and 3 ads at the bottom for the majority of search terms. For some “highly commercial” (read “competitive”) terms Google will add a 4th ad position at the top. In regards to mobile searches up to 3 ads will be served at the top of the mobile SERP.
What does this mean for the future?
While no significant changes have been noted in regards to campaign performance so far, it’s speculated that an increase in CPCs across the board is quite likely. It’s a simple matter of supply (fewer ad positions) and demand (same amount of advertisers) will result in a more competitive marketplace.
What can you do to adapt?
Now more than ever it’s crucial to make sure that your campaign and website are working together. To ensure the best performance of your campaign, you will want to optimize your landing pages to make them as relevant to your keywords/ad groups as possible. By improving the content on your landing pages you will be helping increase the quality score of your keywords. With fewer ad positions available, a higher quality score will help increase your chances of a top position. This is also a good time to clean up your AdWords account and remove any irrelevant or underperforming keywords. If CPCs are expected to rise, it’s best to make sure you aren’t wasting money on keywords that aren’t converting.
Over the next few months it will be crucial to monitor campaigns closely until the full effects are understood and adequate bidding optimizations can be implemented.
For more information on how Ideabar/Cox Media Group, a Google Premier SMB Partner, can help with your AdWords campaign contact Alexandra Guth at firstname.lastname@example.org