As you may have already heard, Google confirmed it will no longer be showing ads on the right side of the desktop search results page on most searches worldwide. From speaking to other online marketers, it seems many of us had a similar response; we all know this is bad news, we’re just not sure exactly how bad. While Google always tries to balance providing value to both its users and advertisers, it’s important to remember that above all, Google optimizes for Google. Though I don’t personally think this change will have any major catastrophic impact overnight, I do believe search marketers will feel the effects over the next months. Below are a few thoughts on what this means for marketers and what we should do to prepare.
PPC Traffic Costs Will Increase
This one is pretty obvious. Google is removing quite a lot of ad inventory from their results page, forcing advertisers to increase their bids on the ad auction if they want to receive traffic from the ad slots that remain.
It Will Be Harder for New Advertisers to Enter Competitive Verticals
Companies launching campaigns that target highly competitive keywords will have a very difficult time getting much traffic, and when they do, it will be unreasonably expensive. That’s because there will be few active advertisers in each vertical, and they will be the ones with large budgets, highly optimized campaigns and excellent quality scores with lots of history. Breaking in with a new campaign means out-performing one of these more established advertisers, which will be difficult. If you plan to do this, prepare to overpay significantly for your traffic while building up quality score and proving yourself to Google.
Writing Original Ads Will Be Less Important than it Once Was
When you want your ads to stand out on a results page filled with competing ads, you need to constantly test and optimize them to make sure you get as many of the clicks as possible. With less ads competing for people’s attention, campaign managers only need to differentiate themselves from a small group of competitors, so the process of testing new, original ads will become less of a burden for the handful of successful advertisers in each vertical that are able to maintain their standing in the top ad slots.
Organic Search Results for Non-Competitive Keywords Will Get More Traffic, For Now
Google will be showing 4 ads at the top of the results page for keywords with lots of competing advertisers, pushing organic results even further down the page. But for low demand keywords, such as “capital of Idaho” or “list of nursery songs,” they will continue showing just 3 ads at the top. For these keywords, the sites appearing in the organic results will have less competition. This will translate into more traffic for the short term. However, my guess is that over time, Google will fully populate the newly vacant right sidebar of their search results page with information from 3rd party sources. They already do this quite a lot this with the knowledge graph panel that shows up for certain types of searches, but I think this is just the beginning. Ultimately, Google’s results pages will give users little reason to ever click on anything other than an ad.
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So now that I’ve sprinkled all this sunshine, let’s discuss a few things you can do in response.
Target Long Tail Keywords
The tail keywords (with 3+ words that are not being targeted by numerous other advertisers) must become a bigger part of your strategy. You should be targeting them with AdWords ads, content via SEO, and BingAds, which brings me to the next tip.
If You Don’t Already Have One, Open a BingAds Account
Importing your AdWords campaign into a BingAds account is incredibly easy and a great way to lower your dependence on Google. Ads on Bing cost less per click, and are often more profitable.
Improve Your AdWords Quality Scores Across Your Entire Account
You may have gotten away with having 10% of your traffic coming from keywords with low quality scores on Google AdWords, but it’s time to up your game. In a world with only 4 paid listings sharing most of the traffic for each keyword, only the most deserving advertisers will survive. So that means deleting keywords where needed, increasing bids and creating more relevant ads on low quality score traffic.
Build Out Your Ad Extensions
These are optional ad features that help you take up more real estate on Google for ads that appear on the top spots of the results page. They improve your click-through-rates and quality scores, and may help you secure your spot at the top.
Test New Ad Channels
If you haven’t gotten around to it yet, then now is time to branch out to additional ad networks. Facebook, AdRoll, LinkedIn and many other platforms offer great alternatives to reach your audience. Of course the users have different intent than on search engines, so you’ll need to tweak your marketing messages and funnels accordingly.
In summary, if news about the removal of these ads has you worried, you’re justified, but there’s no need to panic. The impact of this change may not be that dramatic for all advertisers, and even if they are, there are steps you can take to maintain and even grow your online sales.[/fusion_builder_column][/fusion_builder_row][/fusion_builder_container]