Google’s Search Engine Results Page Changes its look

Chris Bretschger

February 26, 2016

If part of your marketing plan includes search engine marketing, then you should’ve noticed this week that the results page looks a bit different on your desktop and tablet.

The Search Engine Results Page (SERP, for short) underwent a fairly dramatic shift this week that may have a substantial impact in how your search engine marketing team will be managing your media moving forward.

The top ads, previous a set of up to 3 ads, will now have the opportunity to show a fourth ad for your high-volume key words. While the fourth position will show as an opportunity for additional traffic for paid advertisors, it will undoubtedly have an effect on the effectiveness of your SEO campaigns, pushing your top organic listings even further toward the fold.

While there’s an addition of a fourth ad on the top, Google has stopped showing the text ads on the side of the page for all queries on computers. The 4-11 positions will be taken over by only 3 bottom-of-page ads.

For everyone following along, this also means a decrease in overall ad positions available on the first page from 11 to 7. The decrease in placements, means greater competition for these top slots, and while typically the right side column saw fewer clicks, at a more efficient CPC, we can expect that your search marketing team will need to fight harder for the coveted top positions, and the balance of slots 5-7 (bottom of the page) will become a trickier position to optimize against.

At the end of the day, the big consideration will be the maintenance of your ad rank, the mix of each keyword’s quality score, your max CPC bid, and the expected impact of the ad formats.

With changes afoot on the first page of Google, a keen eye needs to be kept on your CPC bids to ensure that your campaigns remain efficient. At position 4, you’ll need to keep a closer eye for additional clicks and efficiency of your budget spent, and in your higher positions (5-7) you’ll need to assess if you were receiving the volume you once were when your ads were still above the fold.

Probably one of the biggest front-end changes we’ve seen in the search world from a day-to-day management in a while, and as Google continues to work to improve their experience, we can all rest assured that this won’t be the last.