When Google officially made the change where the 4 ads above the organic search results went from small test to live, it was pretty significant news for many, especially for SEOs who are seeing their sites being pushed further down the page, and for advertisers who are suddenly seeing the AdWords bidding landscape changing.
Here are some more updates about the change.
A Google spokesperson told The SEM Post “We’ve been testing this layout for a long time, so some people might see it on a very small number of commercial queries. We’ll continue to make tweaks, but this is designed for highly commercial queries where the layout is able to provide more relevant results for people searching and better performance for advertisers. ”
What are Highly Commercial Queries?
High commercial queries are those types of searches where people express a deep intention to buy.
So think of queries where you are not necessarily in the research phase but in the buy phase. For example, “buy laptops” shows the 4 ads above the organic search results.
These are often the highest value keywords as well, meaning it will be important to be in those top 4 positions, but also to work on getting a very high quality score to lessen the impact of the cost per click.
However, with what we are seeing, some of the queries aren’t so much intention to buy as intention to convert with a specific action, such as requesting information.
Reduced Ads on Page
Despite Google going big with those 4 ads on the top of the search results, this change actually means fewer ads overall, since sidebar ads no longer display. The bottom AdWords ads that appear below the search results are not affected by this change.
For example, searching for “health insurance” shows 7 ads with the new Google AdWords layout. But with the old sidebar layout, there are 11 ads. So competition for those limited ad positions just got much tighter.
Product Listing Ads
PLAs are the only ads that would appear in the sidebar on a query that shows the 4 AdWords ads above the fold. PLAs can appear at the top of the search results for queries that do not have 4 AdWords ads too.
Google is still displaying some extensions in the new 4 ads format. They include sitelinks, ratings/reviews, consumer ratings and more. Here is an example showing multiple extensions:
For some of these types of buy queries, the ads can be more up-to-date than organic counterparts. This could be especially true for ads on trending topics or products.
AdWords has made this change globally to affect all countries.
Similarly, this change rolls out for all ads, regardless of language. So this isn’t something that affects only English ads.
Percentage of Ads Impacted
Google has not released any specifics on number of searchers or ads that are impacted by this change, despite some reporting otherwise. But simply based on what people are seeing, it does affect a large number of queries.
One of Many Tests
Google tests many AdWords tests on a very regular basis, and we cover many of them here. Not all make it to be pushed out live from testing, so this shows that the 4 ads above the search results were performing well in test, especially for highly commercial queries.
Mobile Versus Desktop
We have seen Google moving towards aligning the look and feel of the desktop results with those of mobile. And one of the most visible differences are those sidebar ads, which obviously do not show up like that when doing searches from a mobile device.
Signed in Versus Incognito
If you want to see the search results before this change, right now the change has not rolled out to those who are not logged in or are in incognito mode. While this could change, it is a current way to compare old versus new… at least until it rolls out to those users too. But as of this morning, some are seeing incognito with the new AdWords change, while I still see the old layout. So it is very likely it is in the midst of rolling out to those searching via incognito.
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