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12 Predictions for How the Latest Changes From Google AdWords Will Change Things

Google announced its most significant change to AdWords at the end of May, with a move to bigger, expanded text ads. They also introduced New Responsive Ads for Display and New Location Based Ads, with greater integration of Google My Business into Google Maps and a tie-in to store visits. How Will the New Google Ads Change Search Marketing? What does it all mean and how is it going to change the world of search?

Looking Back on How Google AdWords has Evolved

Firstly, being profound, often, to look forward, you have to look back.

When Google first introduced AdWords at the end of 2000, its ads were placed, almost apologetically, in the right hand column and it was very clear that there were ads, not to be confused with the natural results. In fact, Google’s Press Release stated “Google’s quick-loading AdWords text ads appear to the right of the Google search results and are highlighted as sponsored links, clearly separate from the search results”.

Google Ads in 2001

Google Ads in 2001

Google has always constantly experimented with its formats and layouts but the first major change was in 2005, when ads were introduced above the organic results for certain terms, which evolved to become more widespread and then were highlighted in yellow.

Google Ads in 2007

Google Ads in 2007

Ad Extensions followed, with the introduction of sitelinks in 2009, followed by the introduction of Product Listing Ads, the forerunner to Google Shopping Ads.

Google Product Listing Ads, the forerunner to Shopping Ads

Google Product Listing Ads, the forerunner to Shopping Ads

In 2010 it introduced clickable telephone numbers and in 2012 enhanced sitelinks, with wider integration of shopping ads.

Over the next few years, the coloured background was dropped, to be replaced by an orangey/yellow “Ad” icon, top ads became much bigger, with callouts, sitelinks, location extensions, phone extensions, ratings and extended headlines, to the point where top ads achieved significantly higher click through rates than ads appearing in the right hand column.

Google Ads in 2007

A 2016 Google Ad with Enhanced Site Links and a range of Extensions

Then, in 2016, in a move to make desktop search results more consistent with mobile searches, it bowed to the inevitable and dropped the right hand column ads altogether and introduced 4 top ads for “commercial terms”, i.e. where there is competition and advertisers and willing to bid up prices.

Back in the past users were easily able to spot paid ads and often would assiduously refrain from clicking any of those spammy AdWords ads and only trust organic results. It was often quite difficult l to convince potential advertisers that anyone clicked on these ads, such was the belief in this, although, as Google AdWords Professionals, we obviously saw things differently, as would anyone who followed the financial progress of Google Inc.,

We could also see that ads at the top of the right hand column had much higher click through rates, in general, to those further down. But, as Google started to introduce the top ads, Click through Rates rocketed.  As these ads took up more space and, perhaps more importantly, had more link/click opportunities with site links and extended site links, some click through rates rose higher levels than the circa 30% often seen as being a benchmark for a first position organic result.

As these ads took up more page estate, lost their “obvious” highlighters, including changing the bright orange ‘Ad’ icon to Green in May and overtook the top of the page so much so that, in most ‘commercial’ searches, often only one organic result can be seen on a desktop search and no organic results without scrolling on a mobile search.

New Google Ads in Top 4 Spots and Shopping in Right Column

New Google Ads in Top 4 Spots and Shopping in Right Column

Ads now account for top 4 positions on search page (all with a bigger footprint), with shopping links on the right hand side

On mobile devices, Paid Ads take up the entire opening search screen

On mobile devices, Paid Ads take up the entire opening search screen

So, now that we have seen how things have gone, let’s look at what’s coming up and try to predict the future.

New Google Ads Will Become Bigger and More Prominent, With Greater Click Opportunities and Will Take up Much More of the Search Page

Google has introduced very new ad formats, which are designed to be more mobile friendly – they are also a lot bigger!

New Ad Formats will mean a much bigger share of  search page clicks will go to paid ads

New Ad Formats will mean a much bigger share of  search page clicks will go to paid ads

New Google Ads will be 47% bigger

New Google Ads will be 47% bigger

We have already seen how 4 Top Ads with extensions takes up a substantial element of the searchers screen. We 47% bigger ads, this is going to push paid ads much more prominently.

So, with bigger paid ads and more of them, what will happen?

Click through Rates of the Top Ads Will Continue To Increase

We already think that paid ads are taking a much bigger share of search clicks than the current public data suggests, and we think that with bigger ads and more of them, PPC ads are going to receive a much larger share of search clicks. This will make it very hard for businesses who are relying on acquiring traffic, leads or sales though search to do this without a good PPC campaign.

Competition Will Increase for Those Top Position Ads and So Bids Will Rise and CPC Increase

And as the benefits and rewards of getting one of those top 4 spots becomes even more apparent, bidding will intensify for those top spots increasing cost per click (CPC)

Click Through Rates on the Top Organic Results Will Fall

Most of the Data on Organic Click through rates goes back to 2014 and before, however it stands to reason that if the CTR on top of page paid ads rises significantly the CTR of the organic results on the rest of the page will fall. This we can see in our own data, although there will always be significant differences between different types of search, e.g. brand vs generic, mobile vs desktop, information vs purchase, etc., and, in most cases we are seeing significant increases in search volumes, meaning that even if CTR falls overall traffic increases.

SEO will become even more important

So is SEO Dead? Quite the contrary, we believe that despite all our other predictions, SEO will become even more important.

Good SEO is all about:-

  • Understanding the terms that people might use to find information on the products and services you are seeking to promote
  • Ensuring the content on your page is relevant to these terms and these people
  • Making sure your site is structured to give clear signals to both a user and a search engine on the importance of each page and its place within the site
  • Making your site easy to navigate for booth a user and a search engine
  • Making sure that technical issues don’t make it hard for a user or a search engine to find and understand your content
  • Developing content that will be valuable to your visitors and to other sites who might refer to it

A good PPC campaign relies on this also – if you ignore any of these factors you will find your ads not appearing as frequently or as prominently and you will be paying a lot more for each click.

How you appear and what you pay for each click in Google Shopping relies heavily on how you set up your products, describe them and name them. Significant benefits are achieved by optimisation and ignoring optimisation will result in substantially less effective campaigns.

So far from making SEO redundant we feel it will become even more important in assisting the PPC campaign, getting good results from Google Shopping, getting top natural ranks for key terms and ensuring content gets found.

Top Ranking Organic Keywords Will, However, Become More Valuable As A Result Of Higher CPC’s

With only 4 slots for paid ads and a whole page to scroll down through until the next ads, top organic results will become even more valuable and important.

Competition for Those Top Places and For First Page Rankings Will Intensify

Naturally the first 3 results will be the most valuable as these are top of the ‘real’ organic results and below those top ads, however we feel that top 5 will become more valuable and you might even see increases in CTR for the rest of the listings on page 1

Google Shopping Will Become Even More Important for Ecommerce

With either a top right spot or positons in the top results as well as appearing in image searches, we think Google Shopping Will Become Even More Important for Ecommerce. We also see Shopping CPC’s increasing as a result.

Nearly Everyone Who Needs To Be Visible In Search Will Need To Have A PPC Campaign

So, with this significantly greater paid ad footprint, sites can no longer rely on just being found in organic search. Everyone who wants a part of the action and wants to be found will need to run PPC.

The Benefits for Having A Well Optimised PPC Campaign Will Become Even More Apparent

With greater paid ad visibility, increased competition, good quality score and becoming even more important for both paid ad ranking and CPC; and the cost/value of each search click becoming significantly higher, optimising your PPC campaign will become even more important and will take up significantly more time.

Content Marketing Will Become Even More Important As A Cost Effective Way of Driving New Users to Your Website

So with all this going on, are there other opportunities rather than relying just on PPC? We see real potential in less commercial searches, where paid ads are not all over the page. Quite often these will be specific ‘long tail keyword phrases’ where you have opportunities to meet user needs with content relating directly to what they are looking for.  We can see this as a way to grow a substantial proportion of sites traffic.

Getting Traffic Via Search Will No Longer Be A Cheap Way Of Acquiring Customers And Each New (And Old) User Will Become Even More Valuable.

In days gone by, website owners would often see organic search traffic as a way of growing traffic and acquiring customers cheaply and would often pay less attention to these clicks as they were not costing money for each click, unlike paid advertising. This will no longer be the case.

Turning New Users into Customers through User Experience Social Engagement, Email and Remarketing /Retargeting  Will Become Even More Important

Enticing new users to your site is one thing, but if they leave immediately or don’t come back, then it’s pretty much wasted. Giving your new visitors a great user experience and then engaging them through Social Media, Email and Remarketing /Retargeting will become even more important in this new era of search.

Our 12 Predictions for How the Latest Changes From Google AdWords Will Change Things

So here are our predictions for How Will the New Google Ads will change things and our recommendations for what your should do

Ads will become bigger and more prominent, with greater click opportunities and will take up much more of the search page

  1. Click through Rates of the Top Ads will continue to increase
  2. Competition will increase for those top positon ads and so bids will rise and CPC increase
  3. Click through rates on the top organic results will decline
  4. SEO will become even more important
  5. Top ranking organic keywords will, however, become more valuable as a result of higher CPC’s
  6. Competition for those top places and for first page rankings will intensify
  7. Google Shopping will become even more important for ecommerce
  8. Nearly everyone who needs to be visible in search will need to have a PPC campaign
  9. The benefits for having a well optimised PPC campaign will become even more apparent
  10. Content marketing will become even more important as a cost effective way of driving new users to your website
  11. Getting traffic via search will no longer be a cheap way of acquiring customers and each new (and old) user will become even more valuable.
  12. Turning new users into customers through social engagement, email and remarketing/retargeting will become even more important