Recently Google removed sponsored (Paid) ads from the right hand side and increased the number of ads to 4 on the top of the page above the natural listings. The total number of ads though has fallen from 11 to just 7.

What does this mean?

Costs may rise – CPCs may increase with advertisers competing to reach one of the top 4 positions on Google SERPs (search engine results page). Naturally CPCs are likely to be higher in these positions compared to the bottom, especially on non-brand keywords.

Similar to mobile with ads appearing at the very top or bottom of the page, if your ad is not above the natural listing you are less likely to be seen.

What considerations should be taken for advertisers still wanting to promote their products/services through Paid Search?

  • A solid structure is fundamental in ensuring your account will run most efficiently. Efficiency is key here, especially with these changes in place. A well segmented, granular account structure provides a solid foundation that can then be built on, optimised and managed effectively
  • Maintain complete impression share on your brand term. This is an excellent opportunity to maximise ad extensions; sitelinks, callouts, reviews etc. CPCs are not likely to rise much if at all on your brand terms and this is a cost effective way of protecting your brand from competition and ensuring you are always visible when searched for
  • Ad extensions, in particular sitelinks, are now more often appearing as a single line and given these are one of many factors that affect the ad rank it is essential they are maximised. There is the possibility that expanded sitelinks may be removed but until this actually happens it is recommended they are utilised to try and get as much real estate on Google SERPs as possible, particularly on your brand terms
  • While the attention has been drawn to desktop/tablet ads, do not forget mobile. What is your current mobile strategy? Do you have a responsive site, a mobile specific site, do you even want to appear on mobile? Did you know that Google prefer to show mobile targeted ads rather than the standard desktop ads? This is just one way you can give yourself a better chance of visibility on Google’s mobile SERPs.

What if advertisers have limited budget and find it difficult to compete with the big players?

While an all-round digital advertising approach may help there are some Paid Search specific strategies that should be considered in addition to the above.  Consider the following strategies:

  • Ad scheduling by day / time – do you have a call centre that only operates during the week – do you need to be visible at the weekend or evenings?
  • Geo targeting – do you only offer product / services in specific locations or that deliver in selected locations?
  • Remarketing – you may wish to re-target audiences that have visited certain pages on your site. Volume may be limited depending on your criteria but conversion rates are often higher. To get the most out of remarketing, ensure you have the right message in your ads. It would be beneficial if your targeted audience ad was different to your all audience ad.

While these changes have shaken things up in the world of Paid Search, since enhanced campaigns was rolled out in 2013, there are some basic principles that will never change – adherence to Paid Search best practice will ensure your account is run most efficiently.