This week has brought with it a variety of alterations to Google’s layout, with these minor changes having a snowball effect that has accumulated into big changes for a lot of businesses.

One of these minor changes, revealed by the Wall Street Journal this week, has been that from February 23 the company have started decreasing the availability of the Google Compare product in its US and UK market ahead of actually terminating the service on March 23.

While people have regularly turned to Google when searching for financial services information or the best deals, their comparison service hasn’t lived up to expectations when compared to others in the over-crowded market. Instead the company are going to focus more intently on their AdWords service along with other innovations.

As we’ve discovered with Google, the only constant appears to be change, and this shift hints at a larger refocusing. All of this information appears to go hand in hand with the recent changes to the right side-bar ads on search results, with up to four text ads appearing above organic search results and Product Listing Ads (PLA) being shifted to the right space. With the inclusion of this additional fourth advert on certain commercial queries, it’s no stretch to assume that this will generate more revenue than the comparison service was doing.

google-compare-serp

This is interesting as it is expected that all costings for AdWords will be affected by the changes, with those on a tight budget feeling the pinch due to available ad space being reduced and the demand for places growing as a result. On top of this it’s expected that the number of keywords advertisers are using will be reduced as the costs increase.

While Google Compare won’t be a massive loss due to the fact it wasn’t rolled out globally, the changes its termination hints at perhaps give a peak into a larger change for Google and their SERP layout in the coming year.

How do you ensure your best deals remain relevant in Google results without having the novelty of a comparison tool to back you up? We believe clients should look toward investing more and more in PLA as part of their AdWords strategy to ensure their service remains prominent on the page and at the tip of everyone’s fingers. However for those on a tight budget, now might be the time to look to focusing more time and energy into alternatives such as Bing which will provide more bang for your buck.

Google’s announcement regarding the removal of the right hand sidebar ads is quite interesting and shocking as well. So, let me walk you through the good, bad and ugly stuff associated with this update and provide you with some food for thought.

The Good

removal of right hand side bar google

The ad space at the top of the search results is more prominent and – with the removal of the right hand sidebar ads – there is now room for another ad to appear on the top. Seeing as how the number of ads featured on the top of organic results has now been increased to 4, this means more visibility and the click through rate (CTR) will naturally be higher. As such, it is of paramount importance to use the Ad Extensions, as it provides greater visibility and control over the landing pages used.

google shopping right hand side bar

The Google Shopping ads have been allocated more space on the side bar, which makes it much less cluttered. It is also believed that Google is experimenting with additional space for another set of 8 Product Listing Ads (PLAs), which means more space for Google Shopping. On a normal screen resolution, all the ads are above the fold and hence it is an added advantage that will positively impact the CTR. The results on the desktop are more aligned to mobile page, which delivers a better user experience.

The Bad & Ugly

The impression share will start to reduce as the inventory gets limited. This is because, when compared to 9 + ad positions in page 1, there will now be 7 positions which means greater competition for the ad space (as shown in the below image). This will impact all accounts and – if the same is being rolled out for search partners network – it will make a larger impact. However, reduction in the inventory on page 1 will affect the impression share, especially in really competitive industries.

paid search ad positions

Secondly, after the enhanced campaigns roll out, this is the major update that impacts the cost per click. The CPC will start to increase steadily over Q2 and it will definitely be more visible in Q3. The mobile bids have gone up drastically after the enhanced campaigns and it is set to increase further with this update. Also, this update makes SEO even more competitive, as more space in the page is taken up by ads. The number of results that appear organically is expected to reduce slightly, however it’s still ambiguous at this early stage.

Who Will Be Affected?

All AdWords accounts will be affected, but the budget conscious advertisers will be the worst affected. Since the inventory on the first page is reduced and for commercial queries, Google has its own comparison site as the first ad meaning that the available ad space is further reduced to 6 so – as the demand is naturally higher – the budget conscious advertisers will suffer the worst. Just as soon as today, Google have reported they are going to close down their comparison site as of 23rd March is believed to be a response of this update.

flights google compare

There might be a slight dip in conversions and the CPA is expected to go higher. The number of keywords used in the account will start to reduce as the costs are going higher and most advertisers will be fixated on converting keywords, so naturally the exact match keywords prices will increase. However, some experts say the CPCs could reduce for the bottom ads but that is very unlikely.

Summary

To summarise, though there are some benefits and drawbacks that will impact all AdWords campaigns, it appears that competition for ad space will increase significantly. However, here are our main take aways from this announcement:

  • No more right hand sidebar ads
  • Need to push more budgets in PLA – Google Shopping campaigns
  • Expand on various channels such as Bing, Facebook etc.
  • CPCs/CPA could go up in the next couple of months
  • Decrease in Impression share

Extra! Extra! Read all about it…

People’s search habits are changing – Mobile is the new king of search!

But you knew that already didn’t you? Well, if you didn’t:

a) You do now!
b) You certainly should have done! Hang your head in shame!

So we have all heard about how mobile searches are overtaking other search queries made from desktops, laptops or tablets. In fact, this is true for over 10 countries in the world including the UK, USA and Japan. Although this information is all well and good, what does it really mean for your organic or paid search campaign? What does it mean for the modern search engine marketer?

what is a micro moment

The future is bright, the future is mobile…

Well in a nutshell it means that there has been a continuous shift away from long desktop/laptop sessions for research purposes. Instead, people are reaching for their smart phone device in a micro moment of intent and consequently spending less time endlessly researching and comparing.

mobile shopping

This is further highlighted by these lovely facts and figures indicating examples of where we may experience such micro moments of intent:

  • Ever stopped mid-conversation to look for something up on your smart device? 60% of smartphone users have reportedly done the same thing.
  • Searched to find the nearest coffee shop?A whopping 82% of smartphone users turn to a search engine when looking for a local business.
  • 82% of smartphone users turn to their phones while in a brick and mortar shop deciding what to buy.
  • 39% of consumers have made a purchase in their kitchen, and a further 28% still have done the same in their car.

These figures are partly due to a rise in user expectation, as they’ll want the exact information they were looking for, in an easily digestible format and they want it yesterday (such is the demand). So in essence, what we have here is a user engagement catch-22 situation.

As marketers have improved the user experience of their online efforts to boost engagement with the user, the person making the search now expects (and demands) the most relevant and up-to-date results to their query…otherwise, they are almost immediately disengaged. We as marketers therefore, must work hard to improve what we are doing to offer a more engaging experience for users and making them want to return for more! Round and round and round we go!

Can you spare a micro moment?

So what do we really have here? The rise and rise of what we know as a ‘Micro Moment’ a super-high intent search. “All this is great Mark” I hear you say, “But what does it mean for me?”

“Billions of times per day, consumers turn to Google for I want-to-know, I want-to-go, I want-to-do, and I want-to-buy moments. And at these times, consumers are increasingly picking up their smartphones for answers.”

Jerry Dischler, VP
Product Management, Adwords

Well, in short, it means that just ‘being visible’, in a prospective search, isn’t going to cut it anymore. Even if you think you are targeting the various segments of your market in an intelligent way, there is a good chance you are missing out on consumers’ micro moments.

Never before has the need to understand your market, how people in your market think and how they engage with you, been more important. An in-depth and concise strategy for each of your market segments needs to be drawn up, implemented and reviewed rigorously otherwise you will simply be throwing your advertising spend away time and time again. And clearly no one wants that!

throwing money away

Here at Digital Next, we know this to be true and as such take steps to ensure that you are targeting your audience in the right kind of way, at the right time, and with the right message. We’ll show you how you can take full advantage of your customers’ micro moments and tailor your campaigns to offer exactly what your audience is looking for.

Come one, come all, get in touch, get a FREE audit of your paid search campaigns and begin to reap the rewards of targeting consumers’ micro moments!