Google is changing its Advertising Layout – Here’s what you need to know.

Google Changing Advertising Layout

Monday, February 29th, 2016

Did you recently search something on Google and noticed anything different? Well, if you didn’t, here’s what’s been happening!

Google is increasing the number of paid search listings, or Google adverts, to 4 appearing above the regular search results. They have also proceeded to eliminate the ads that used to appear on the right-hand side of the page. However, what is the implication of this change?

For the customer, this means users will now have to scroll down further to see the unpaid listings. For the Advertiser, this means that they must clinch one of the 4 top spots above the regular (also known as ‘organic’) search results to claim some consumer attention.

It goes without saying that banners that used to appear on the right hand side had less visibility than the ones appearing exactly on top of the search results. In fact, according to a recent study, a sponsored search result appearing on top of the organic search listing had 14 times more clicks than one appearing on the side.

But how does Google choose which ads appear where?

To cut a long story short, Google holds an ‘auction’ between all the adverts competing for the keyword that the user is searching for and extracts the Ad Rank.  The ‘auction’ is determined by 2 major sections: Maximum Bid and Quality Score. Bidding refers to the maximum amount that the advertiser is willing to bid for a click whilst ‘Quality Score’ refers to how related the website is to the keywords inputted by the user. With these 2 combinations, Google then produces an Ad Rank score, with the first 4 clinching the top spots in the search.

Thus, if an advertiser selling shoes, decides to ‘bid’ on the keywords ‘holidays in Malta’, even though he places a huge bid on those keywords, the Quality Score would be so low, he would never appear in the search results. This means that Google will always return relevant results to what the user has searched, making it a primary reason of why Google Adwords is very effective.

 So how will this change affect my SEO and Google Adwords?

Google Changing Advertising Layout

More Sponsored Listings, Fewer Organic Results.

Well, on the negative side, besides the need to compete more to clinch a top spot, now only seven ads will appear on any results page (compared to 11, previously). This further means that advertisers will need to up their bids to compete to at least have their Ad Rank within the first seven, so as to at least appear in the front page of the search results (although more than half are high value propositions).

On the positive side, since the adverts on the side received less prominence, users ignored such listings and thus, inflated impression statistics unnecessarily for the advertisers. Thus, ad statistics will now be more accurate, and so will the Ad Rank score calculation.

Lastly, with respect to SEO, this needs to be optimised more than ever before. More paid listings appearing on the screen (four of them), will leave just one or two organic listings showing on screen on the first page results. This means that websites not utilising Google Adwords will face stiffer SEO competition to appear in the above the fold area (the area before the user starts scrolling the search results) to obtain the first or second spot.

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