Change is the only constant, but when it is in the layout of the Result Page of Search Engine titan then it is a serious issue of discussion. The year 2016 has witnessed changes in the layout of Google’s Search Engine Result Page or acronym as SERP. The layout tweaks also has effect on the user experience and SEO experts had to change their strategy to meet the new one. Following the Google search results change there have been various analysis on how these changes will affect viewers, marketers and advertisers- position, CTR (click-through-rate), impression or CPC (Cost-per-Click).
Changes in Google’s SERP Layout
The Search Engine Result Page layout of both desktop and mobile has changed. Important Google search results change are
- The first thing that probably everyone noted- text ads removed from the right rail of the screen.
- Above the organic listing, now instead of three text ads, four appears in the mainline area for highly commercial queries .
- At the bottom of SERP, now three text ads appears.
- There has been a decrease in the number of text ads, it has reduced from 11 to a maximum of 7.
- On certain queries, knowledge panels and product listing ad blocks will appear on the right rail.
- In the mobile version there is a grey area between cards for demarcation, however it is missing in the desktop screen.
The aim of this change is to provide a consistent user experience across desktop, mobile and tablets. With these changes the new desktop SERP layout will look similar to that of result page that appears on the mobile. The search engine giant reveals that the aim of this change is better user experience across all the devices and provide relevant results for the search queries.
Impact of Google search results change
Since the organic search results have been pushed down owing to the recent changes in SERP layout and paid search now occupies the first two slots, digital marketers and advertisers might be worried about the fate of organic search results. In fact on the mobile screen, for few search results, the organic results appear only below the fold. This Google search results change has paved way for paid ads to be in limelight and improves visibility for the advertisers. But, it will come at a high cost!
Influence on Paid Search – It seems that advertisers are the biggest winners and to be specific the text ads that appears in the position 3 and followed by new 4th position. Advertisers reported that CTR has increased by almost 20 percent and 15 percent in ads that appear in position 3 and position 4 respectively. The major losers were advertisers below the position 5.
It is expected that the CPC of the first four positions will also improve. This change will be beneficial for the relevant and targeted ads. Ads that have irrelevant landing pages and content will not perform. In fact the ads that do not have targeted keywords in it will also weed out gradually. A data-driven approach for paid advertising will be the key to success.
An integrated approach– If an advertiser or a brand wants to reap the most from this recent Google search results change then what they need is an integrated approach that includes organic and paid search strategy. To ensure that your brand is getting noticed by your target audience, a combined strategy is the only way out. It will focus on high ranking in the organic search result and visibility of the paid ads.
Even the brick-and-mortar stores need to change their optimization strategy. They need to emphasize on the local search. As per the new layout, first the paid ads appear, then local packs followed by the organic searches. It is important for these businesses to appear in the local packs, if they want to expand their reach and customer base. Any brand that positions itself in the first two ranks of organic search result and paid text ads that appear in the first three position will get high visibility and maximum click. Thus, both paid and organic search should work in tandem.
Irrespective of the change in SERP layout, it is seen majority of the clicks go to organic searches. The behavior of users is consistent and for this SEO will remain to be important always. It has been seen that there are two types of users- first who rely on the organic search result, second the users who clicks on both organic listing and paid ads till they find their relevant search query.
Influence on Content– With this layout change the purchase path will no longer be linear. The path is fragmented and it is important for the content should reach users at different stages of purchase journey. Digital marketers need to review the content strategy. Emphasize on the long-tail keywords or those that have low competition on the organic search.
Now marketers need to have different landing pages for both organic and paid ads, and content for each landing page should suit the intent of each. For instance, the content of paid landing page should aim at influencing the buying decision of users. On the other hand, landing page of an organic search should educate the users, educate them in the research phase of the purchasing path.
Tips for succeeding post SERP layout change
Post the Google search results change, now the advertisers and optimizers need to adapt their strategies for a successful marketing campaign. It will not be an uphill task, but following few points will prove to be fruitful.
- Take your performance reports seriously – Note the percentage of clicks, number of conversions, impressions and CTR for a specific period of time.
- Redefine the target of AdWords to increase competition– In case there is a change in the competition owing to different reasons then focus your efforts on different features of AdWords like Customer Match.
- Focus on quality of ad content– Owing to the recent changes, the quality of your ad content will also matter. The position of your paid ad on the page will affect the CTR directly. Evaluation of each ad will be based on its position.
- Mobile-first approach– Google now emphasizes on the experience of mobile users. In 2015, search engine traffic of mobile has surpassed desktop search. You need to emphasis on digital experience of mobile users be it in terms of keyword focus, landing page, CTA, ad extensions and most importantly content.
So, now when all are bidding goodbye to the right rail ads, it is better to adapt to the SERP layout changes and adjust the strategies for a successful marketing strategy.