Google Changes its Desktop Search Results

Over the past couple of weeks there has been much discussion in the world of digital advertising around the changes Google has made to the positioning of their paid search ads. Let’s take a moment to examine and understand the changes.

What do we know?

In simple terms: Google is no longer showing ads to the right of its search results. This means Google’s Desktop search and Mobile search will look much more alike.

  • Ads are no longer appearing on the right side of desktop search results.
  • Google is showing four ads instead of three for commercial queries in the area above the organic listings.
  • Three text ads will continue appearing at the bottom of the search engine results page.
  • The total number of text ads that can appear on search results has moved from 11 to a maximum of seven.

Why the changes?

According to a statement Google made on Search Engine Land:

“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.” [Search Engine Land]

* Highly commercial queries refer to those queries in which Google perceives an intent to purchase.

The purpose of doing this is to provide Google users more refined, accurate results for their search terms, especially when they use keywords with the intention of buying.

What does this mean for ReachLocal and our clients?

ReachLocal software’s core function is to optimise around the best page position for individual keywords, based on conversions to the website. It’s what we do best and we’ve been doing it since our inception in 2003. ReachLocal’s software is constantly doing statistical analysis on elements such as keyword bid price, text ad position, daily budget, quality score, and overall conversions on the website to replicate positive actions and steer money away from actions that lead to nothing.

Initially we expect this change to drive more competition across the industry as advertisers and agencies react to fewer available positions on page one of SERPs (search engine results page). Over time, we also expect lower competition on certain keywords as advertisers will no longer see value in bidding on a broader range of keyword and less relevant keywords.

ReachLocal is currently monitoring our clients’ campaigns and adjusting as needed. In addition to letting our technology do what it does best, we are also monitoring any further changes and will work with our global product team to address any issues that may arise.

The effectiveness of our technology was recently validated as we received back to back Google Partner awards for 2014 & 2015. Click here to read the Press Release.

The Way Forward

Having a solid web presence for your business will ensure you minimise any impact from this Google change or others in the future. By using a combination of digital solutions you can continue to win new customers online.

Have you armed your business with the following?

SEO – for improving visibility on map listings, and local organic search; more important than ever before!

Retargeting – to re-engage potential customers and keep your business top of mind.

Live Chat – maximises every website visit with the opportunity to convert leads into customers.

Social Media – with consumers spending more time on social channels, it’s becoming a powerhouse for customer acquisition. If it’s appropriate for your business, utilise social channels to build brand awareness and reach more people.

If you would like to understand more about these changes or learn how our Total Digital Marketing System can help your business get more customers online, we’d love to hear from you!


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