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The real impact of Google’s new paid search ad layout on organic search
We've heard a lot about how Google's changes to its paid ad display might impact advertisers, but what about those focused on organic search? Columnist Winston Burton discusses the impact on SEOs.
Over the years, the Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs) have changed a lot. Features like news, images, videos and the Knowledge Graph have impacted the display, sorting and order of SERPs, dramatically impacting organic listings.
Recently, Google decided that paid search ads will no longer appear on the right-hand side of search results for desktop users globally, and up to four paid search results will appear at the top of the page (up from a maximum of three previously).
Paid search ads that fall below the fourth rank will appear at the bottom of the page, which has limited visibility to end users, for a total of seven ads per page max.
This is a big change, but how does it really impact organic search?
The answer is a number of different ways, which I will explore shortly. But before I do, let’s examine why Google is doing this.
Like many companies, Google has seen mobile traffic grow at an accelerated pace over the past two years. This new layout makes the desktop experience very similar to the current mobile SERP. It will allow Google to provide more relevant results for end users and also provide better performance for advertisers.
The key here is the fact that Google is very good at understanding intent. Google can distinguish a transactional query from an informational query. So, if I did a search to buy a camera and got an organic listing first to download the manual, I would see that as bad user experience.
Alternatively, if I received a bunch of paid ads selling cameras and didn’t even see any organic listings, that would be a better user experience. If four paid ads suit the intent, even if they push everything else down below the fold, it’s still a good experience.
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