The world of SEO was dealt the equivalent of a seismic shock when Google moved the paid ads from the right hand side of search results to the top of the page. Google said that it made the change for ‘highly commercial queries” in order to provide “relevant results” for users and “better performance for advertisers”. With the new layout, four paid ads appear at the top of the page now compared to four ads prior to this change. As a result, this has pushed down the organic search results below the fold. Search results that are ‘below the fold’ are all the results that the user has to scroll down for. Scroll further down and another three paid ads appear at the bottom of the search results, severely contracting the space available to organic results.
Most SEO companies believe that this change will have a big impact on organic SEO results and in the absence of a highly effective PPC campaign management strategy; online traffic to most websites will see a significant decrease. In this post, we will the impact of this change on SEO traffic
Decrease in Click Through Rates for Organic Results
Earlier organic results were literally ruling the roost. They were assured a great click through rate, especially those that appeared in the first two positions. The click through rate for organic results is expected to decrease now that they have been pushed down by paid ads. In fact, on mobile phones, no organic listing appears above the fold. This means that more and more websites will be opting to put up paid search ads and leading to an increase in the average cost per click for most PPC advertisers.
Websites Will Opt for Both Paid Ads and Organic Search
Many websites will probably opt to integrate both paid ads and SEO and try and appear at the top for both. This will increase their visibility.
The New Layout Could Alter Search Behavior
It is wrong to assume that users will continue to search the way they always have without scrolling down. With paid results appearing at the top, it will be important to see (and interesting to watch) how many users will be skipping the paid ads to get to the organic search.
A Lot of SERPRS Won’t have 4 Ads at the Top
The number of ads that will appear at the top of the page is expected to increase. However, there are still plenty of search queries that display one or two or no ads at all. As a result, organic rankings will continue to remain important on those pages.
Local SEO will Become Even More Important
In the current layout of the SERP, the paid ads appear on top, under which there is a local pack with local results and finally there are the organic search results. The local pack has greater visibility than organic results, and so it has become extremely important for a local business to appear in the local pack.
Different Landing Pages for Paid Ads and Organic
Websites will probably have different landing pages for paid ads and organic results now. The landing page of the paid ads will probably be targeted at the customer who is in the final stages of buying a product. The landing page of those who reach there through organic results will probably be targeted at customers who are still deciding whether to buy.
More Important to Rank on Organic Search
With the first page organic results now fighting for very limited space, ranking in the first two results (and appearing on the first page) has become more important than ever before.
With Google continuing to look for ways to make results relevant for users, the only thing we know for sure is that the SERPs will change again pretty soon. For now the challenge is for brands, websites and SEO companies to take on the challenge and adapt their marketing strategy according to the new layout.