In case you haven’t noticed, Google has been displaying slightly different search results than what you’re probably (subconsciously) used to. Do you know what’s different?

Over the past few months, Google has been refining its AdWords taxonomy, testing changes to search ads within various niche segments. The advertising giant has been continuously experimenting with the number of ads that appear in the paid positions of search results.

Search results used to display three prime position ads and anywhere up to 11 right rail ads, like the below:

Google: With rail ads

More recently, Google has rolled out new search results which display four prime position ads and no right rail ads. This change has had an impact on a number of searches, mainly for highly-competitive commercial queries such as hotels and insurance.

Google: Without rail ads

What does this mean for marketers?

Google’s job as a search engine is to provide users with the most accurate information and search results to help answer their questions. Google’s decision to reduce AdWords real estate means search engine marketers will need to revaluate their strategies and move towards providing an enhanced online experience for potential customers. So, how exactly does this change affect search marketers?

Provide a better experience for potential customers

With no right rail ads, only the four most relevant ads will be displayed, forcing marketers to more accurately target keywords and create ads that better resonate with searchers and their intent. Put simply, it means marketers will still need to be clever and creative with their messages while providing appropriate search results to the masses.

Cost-per-click to spike

When advertising real estate is reduced, demand increases, forcing prices to go up. Expect an increase in the average cost-per-click as marketers battle it out to keep their positions at the top of the Google results page. But this isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Previously, if a search ad appeared anywhere between position 6 and 11 in the right rail, it usually meant the ad copy and associated landing page weren’t properly optimised for the keyword the user searched for. In this instance, if the ad received clicks, there was a good chance marketers may have been wasting ad spend because the content wasn’t quite what the searcher was after. If an ad gets displayed in the new format, any clicks it receives will be more qualified and will have a greater likelihood to convert as it means it targeted the searcher’s queries accurately.

More accurate reporting

With the removal of right rail ads it means marketers will be able to report more accurately on search ad performance. In the previous 11 ad format, the mean position would generally be lower than the mode position because there were so many ads skewing the results. Now with the reduction of ads, there will be a much smaller discrepancy between the mean and mode position of ads, providing a more accurate representation of how the ad has been performing.

A change for the better

Although there is now less search ad real estate to play with and a more competitive environment, it should be viewed as an opportunity to provide even better experiences for customers. The removal of right rail AdWords ads and the addition of a prime position slot should allow marketers to think more intelligently about what drives their customers. The competition will be fierce but it will challenge marketers to think outside the box and further develop their skills in AdWords and search marketing.

SEO is a wondrous marketing tool which, when done right, can bring new customers to your website, increase conversions, reduce your cost-per-lead, and ultimately make your business more profitable.

With great power, comes a great Google Bomb

Google Bombs are exceptional SEO campaigns that showcase the true power of this essential modern marketing tactic. Never underestimate the potential of proper link building and on-page optimisation.

Or you might end up like these guys:

5. Micro-what?

The Microsoft Google Bomb is where it all started. Considered to be the first SEO blunder/stroke of genius (depending on how you view things), an unknown web master managed to optimise the homepage of the Microsoft website with a slightly different keyword research flavour. When someone, for some reason, searched for “more evil than Satan himself”, Microsoft’s homepage would appear in the search engine’s top ranking position.

Microsoft HQ

4. George dub-ya

Microsoft may have been the first, but George  W. Bush was definitely the biggest. Around the time that Bush ran for his second term of presidency, Google searches that matched the phrase “Miserable Failure” would return Bush’s White House biography page as the number one search result. It seems Google’s algorithm was fairly accurate even before Hummingbird.

George W Bush

3. Scientology

Hacktivist group Anonymous not only possesses the skills to hack accounts and other top secret government, religious and corporate documents, they also do great SEO. In 2008, they hacked the Church of Scientology’s website, did some standard on-page optimisation and BAM! The church’s site ranked at the top of Google for the term “Dangerous Cult”. This what some in-depth keyword research and effective SEO can do.

Scientology Google Search

2. Creed

In the modern era of music, where heavy beats and auto tune have made it easy to become a star, artists and bands still, somehow, manage to cop backlash *cough – Nickelback  – cough*. But no band will ever – past, present, future, and in all undiscovered dimensions – be as bad as Creed. In 2001, when the rock band made its way on to main stream radio, searching for the term “worst band in the world” did not exactly show results for Creed… but Google did offer users an obvious suggestion.

Creed Google Search

1. Chuck Norris knows the last digit of Pi

Understanding keywords and phrases that customers use for searching on Google is an essential part of a content marketing strategy, and heavily influences site visibility. And this one is a great example. An enthusiast who seeks to find the mythical enigma known as Chuck Norris would typically search “find Chuck Norris”. If users hit the “I’m feeling lucky” button on Google, they are taken to a webpage that displays the following message:

Chuck Norris Google Search

This goes to show that web design and a user-friendly experience are just as important as SEO.

Although these are some fun and insightful examples, they show just how valuable and powerful SEO can be. With suitable on-page optimisation, backed by sound keyword research, credible link building, and an integrated content marketing strategy, your site can also experience the growth and exposure like these Google Bombs… but, you know, in a more positive way.

To find out more about effective SEO and marketing strategies for your website, contact Assemblo today. Phone (03) 9079 2555 or email [email protected]

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