After some initial testing, Google have now rolled out their new search layout, removing the paid text ads that we’ve been accustomed to viewing at the side of the SERP’s – and it’s a fairly significant shake up!
Removing up to 10 ads from the side of the results page essentially leaves less “real estate” for businesses to promote themselves. It’s early stages, but we may see a generic increase in Cost Per Click rates as businesses vie for first page positions.
Google have also included an additional paid listing at the top of the page from three, to four ads.
In response to the changes, Google have stated:
“We’ve been testing this layout for a long time, so some people might see it on a very small number of commercial queries. We’ll continue to make tweaks, but this is designed for highly commercial queries where the layout is able to provide more relevant results for people searching and better performance for advertisers. ”
So basically you’re more likely to see this new layout for very popular queries where there’s an intention to buy a product or service. It’s less effective for a user to be presented with four paid ads if they’re in the research phase, or simply using Google to find our how long sheep spend chewing grass.
For brand searches a user will typically see the knowledge graph….
….and for products, PLA’s (Product Listing Ads) will appear.
With fewer choices for a user to click on, advertisers on the first page may see an increase in their Click Through Rates, but it may come at the expense of having to ramp up the maximum Cost Per Click you’re willing to spend.
What all of this ultimately means for SEO, is that for some of the more popular queries, the old “first position” in organic search will now move down a place. Long tail search queries appear to be unaffected so depending on your strategy, it could be business as usual or you may see a slight decrease in organic traffic. It’s time to take a close look at Analytics over the coming weeks.