SEO (Search Engine Optimization) has received a lot of attention these past few months due to massive algorithm changes (different variations of Panda, Penguin, Mobilegeddon etc.), but 2016 is actually ramping up to be one of the most significant years for paid search in the 15 years PPC (pay-per-click) advertising has been around. That’s quite a statement, so let’s get right to it! Whether you are a beginner or seasoned pro, let’s see what these changes are and how they may affect you.
1.) Removal of Right-Side Ads From Google Search
So Google did it, they removed ads from the right side of Google search. Now many analysts offer page after page of data to why Google did this and how it affects their client’s results, and I am not going to bore you with that today. Here’s the scoop, there are a couple reasons why Google removed these ads.
The first is that right-side ads are inherently not on mobile devices, and a large majority of searches happen on mobile. So Google is already getting most of its profit from mobile, so why keep something that is desktop-only (around 6% of searches)?
Second, Google wants a continual experience across all devices for consumers so that desktop, tablet and mobile all look, feel and function the same. Easy and seamless consumer experience across all devices = happy consumers.
Lastly, they did it to make more money. That’s right, we’re talking about Google here, and they have profit margins to maintain. By removing the right-side ads on Google desktop, they decided it was “necessary” to add more ads at the top of Google search results, so instead of seeing 3 ads when you search, you now see 4. Almost all clicks and conversions happen in the top results of Google, so more money for them.
Now how does this affect you? We’ve poured over a number of different studies in various industries and from different agencies and the general consensus are that CPC (cost-per-click) is generally going up across all industries, and most industries are seeing fewer advertisers, but the advertisers in the current auction are spending more to be at the top of the page. So the solution to be competitive? Create an automated top of page bidding strategy and increase both your budget and bids.
2.) Longer Headlines and More Characters in Ad Text
Longer headlines—this is something that Google has been mostly testing, but it’s confirmed to be rolling out this year. Longer headlines work better—especially on mobile where almost all searches happen. Google sees this trend and is testing across all devices and is seeing a much higher CTR (click-through-rate) on ads.
They are also testing longer ad descriptions. So instead of having 70 characters, there will be a total of 80 characters. This is great, as it’s hard to squeeze a full marketing message into 70 characters. 80 characters will give you that extra room to add that proper punctuation, catchy CTA (call-to-action) phrase, or ‘call now’ you’ve wanted to fit in your ad but couldn’t before.
What can you do to prepare? Start thinking about how you can add value to your ads. Are you really saying what you want to say and what is useful to the consumer or are you just trying to squeeze in a message? Start writing some ad copy and think about using those extra characters, they will be coming soon.
3.) Voice Search and Google Assistant
You ever hear someone say “Hey Siri” or “Ok Google” into their phone? I promise they aren’t crazy; they were just using their voice to search or do some other activity for them. Now voice search is increasing, as we live busier lives people have less time to text and type with their fingers and are spending more time talking into their phone. It’s an incredible technology that works surprisingly well. You can use it to search for something, get directions to a local business or almost anything else.
With the recent Google Assistant and Google Home virtual assistant releases, the future of voice commands and queries will be even better. How do we know this trend is increasing? Google is adding voice search reporting into analytics, and broad match modifier keyword targeting is practically ideal for voice search. Remember when that came out and everyone wondered was the fuss was? Well, if you were targeting an exact phrase in Google AdWords like [pizza near me] you might get a number of searches. But now that people are talking into their phone, they are saying things like “Ok Google, show me local deep dish pizza near me within a 10 minute walk” and hundreds of other different variations of the phrase. Broad match modifier prepared us for the ever increasing voice-based search phrases.
There you have it, 3 huge changes to paid search in 2016. Never before has Google made such big changes in such a short amount of time. And we have plenty to look forward to – a new AdWords interface for 2017 is under works, Emoji-based searches are live, and things like the weather are popping up in Chrome before you even finish typing them. It’s an ever-changing digital world we live in, and a good one for anyone in paid search; it just keeps getting better and better.
Before and After screenshots courtesy of https://searchenginewatch.com