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Monday, 08 August 2016 14:08

The new landscape of Google SERPS

Google needs no introduction. It has become so embedded in our society that if we have an emergency, if we want to know how to do something, find something, or even if we want to see how we can get into the online dating game, all we have to do is Google it. This is all good and well for all of us on a personal level, but when it comes to business Google works a little differently, in that it is a force that can make or break a business which is heavily invested in digital marketing.

So when the search engine giant announced it would change its Search Engine Result Page (SERP) display to do-away with paid ads from results on the right sidebar, search marketers gripped their teeth and readied themselves for the worst. But what has this change really meant for companies who base much of their marketing strategy on SERPs? Now, months down the line, marketers can know what they are dealing with as the results are in.

Click-through rates (CTRs) have risen

The removal of ads on the right panel, means that there is additional space at the top of the page where a fourth spot can be filled. More space, more coverage, more clicks. This new spot has drawn more attention to the third place – so keep that in mind when setting out your next campaign. 

What we already knew: right hand ads weren’t a favourite with people who knew the digital marketing terrain well; they had their sights on the top three positions all along.

But what about those campaigns that put their money on the bottom of the page? With more emphasis up on top, these spots are seen less and therefore receive fewer clicks.

Good to know: eye tracking studies show that a large population of SERP visitors’ attention is focused on the left side of the page. So this is probably a key factor for Google’s reasoning.

Costs per click (CPCs) has seen little change

After comparing thousands of campaigns that were out there a month before the change to campaigns after the change, the difference in CPC in North America was three percent. This indication went both ways, meaning that any given campaign either saw an increase or a decrease of CPCs of an average of three per-cent. Businesses who rely on clicks to boost their advertising may find this percentage significant, but in the grand scheme of things, this change hardly rocked the boat.

Traffic hasn’t crashed

This is not a big surprise to search marketers as ads positioned in a lower position before the change wouldn’t build-up a significant amount of traffic. So now with fewer positions up for grabs, traffic is spread out and, besides, those who search will continue searching and be visitors to one advertising destination or other.

Impressions have seen a decrease

When Google still had right-side ads, searchers could see up to 11 ads per search results page. Now that number has nearly gone down to half, resulting in a loss of desktop impression share.

If you had your ad in the eighth position and your business heavily relies on impressions, then you might want to think of bidding on a new space, because this is the one who has seen the highest drop in impressions.

After analyzing the outcome, going through the small ups and downs of what came after the change, we can safely say that on average the results haven’t rocked the way we view digital marketing to its core - rather it confirmed that search marketers are already Google savvy (as their search strategies didn’t fold) and are now ready to face any other challenges the people behind the search engine may throw at them.

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