The search world has been rocked by a dramatic transformation in a long-standing part of Google results pages. From now on, paid advertisements appear only at the top and bottom of results – never on the right-hand side, as they have for years.
This simple change threatens to turn SEO wisdom on its head. It has long been assumed that many changes at Google are aimed at driving businesses onto its ad platform, AdWords, a losing proposition for many small businesses.
Now, it seems, those same ads are dramatically less visible than ever. Although up to four ads will be shown at the top of the page for “highly commercial terms,” this pales in comparison to the more than a dozen ad spots previously available.
This will change the calculus behind search marketing strategy, but what does it mean?
Ad Spaces Will Be More Expensive Than Ever
Countless B2B victims have claimed the AdWords vouchers that follow domain and business registrations, but $100 in free ads dries up quickly. Now, AdWords will be more competitive and expensive than ever; established enterprises will be at an even greater advantage in capturing ROI, and many small and mid-sized businesses will be left behind.
Quality Content Drives Organic Search Visibility
It has long been known that organic search results are more effective than ads in attracting users. Throughout the history of modern search, study after study attests that more than 50% of traffic goes to the top three search results for a query. Although ads now dominate “top fold” space on users’ screens, odds are good they’ll quickly develop ad blindness and focus on top organic results. It’s essential that brands compete for these spaces through timely, relevant, helpful content.
Professional Account Optimization is Essential
Whether your inbound marketing strategy is built on content, advertising, or a mix of both, professional input will become increasingly important. On the content side, you must have strategies in place to capture buyer insights, refine offerings, and replicate success. For PPC advertising, precision and adaptation to the market will be indispensable to future results.
It’s all too easy for a brand’s in-house PPC to fall into the “death spiral” of poor quality that drives ad prices up. After this occurs, recovery is difficult, and the issue affects all future campaigns. PPC pros hedge against this and maximize ad ROI in a world of growing risks and low margin for error.
The new Google SERP format is already in place worldwide, so adjusting your strategy is essential. Take action today to maintain your visibility – and look twice at the value of outside expertise.