By Peter Barrie
You may have noticed some changes to the layout when you use Google to search on your desktop computer. If you run a small business, you need to be paying attention.
Google has been a great leveller when it comes to opening up opportunity for small business to tap into the potential of its traffic but it also means you have to be aware when it makes major changes. Although Google makes miniscule changes to its algorithm around 500-600 times a year, profound changes are few and far between. But that’s just what this latest AdWords change is.
Gone are the ads on the right hand side of the search results page – they’ve now moved so they appear at the top of the search results and sit above the organic (or unpaid) search results.
Given that 55% of search is desktop based, the net result of these changes is fewer ads. And fewer ads means fewer impressions, so if you’re a small business using AdWords, this affects you.
What may seem like a design change will actually see small businesses have to compete harder than ever for their place in Google listings, be they paid or organic.
With limited budgets and websites that aren’t always updated regularly, daily ad spend for small businesses will be very quickly exhausted, which limits the value you get from AdWords and will likely see you reassessing your digital spend strategy.
The new AdWords regime may see impression share plummet for advertisers with smaller budgets, as their ads will serve fewer times during the day. And this will lead to a rise in cost-per-click (CPC) across the board as advertisers compete more aggressively to be viewed.
Focus on quality
To combat the rise in CPC, advertisers will need to focus on improving their Quality Score to ensure CPCs are as low as possible. The Quality Score is the method by which Google maintains the quality of its ads and includes variables such as ad copy relevance, landing page quality and geographical considerations.
With this greater focus on Quality Score, the onus is on you, the advertiser, to ensure keyword selection is kept lean and ads and landing pages are as relevant as possible.
With less real estate available, you need your ad to work as hard as possible when it does appear. So making sure ads are optimised with extensions (call, location, sitelinks, call outs) will be essential to succeeding with the new AdWords model.
Although the full impact of this change will become apparent in the coming months and weeks, the need for quality search engine marketing management will be at an all-time high now that every impression counts. It may well see businesses focus their energies on search engine optimisation and for those who have been priced out of the market, they may even look elsewhere (such as social media).
Google AdWords should still be a vital part of your overall marketing strategy but adapting and updating your approach to it will be the key to getting the jump on your competitors.
Peter Barrie is executive general manager of Found Digital.