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What's Up With the New SERP?

Elizabeth VincentNews & TechGoogleSEM

What's Up With the New SERP?

Have you heard about Google search’s new look?

The Search Engine Results Page (or SERP) has gotten a makeover, and this new display is slowly but surely rolling out to all desktop searches.

After the news first broke at the end of February, marketers and industry experts were all abuzz waiting to see how the new search results appearance would affect their paid search listings and, more importantly, their campaign results.

Now that we’re a few weeks into the roll-out, what has changed? How is it impacting advertisers? What do you need to know to take action in line with the new look?

The Changing Face of the SERP

Search results pages are slimming down for summer.

Google has eliminated the right-hand side paid search positions for desktop searches. Along with removing those side ads, however, they have increased the number of ads at the top of the search results, bringing the number to 4 (instead of the traditional 3 positions). This addition is, in particular, for what Google refers to as “highly commercial” searches, meaning that not all queries will show 4 sponsored results while others, like “car insurance” or “Boston hotels” would.

To add to the complexity of this SERP change, Google will still display product listing ads as well as Knowledge Graph ads as two exceptions to the right side slimdown. Overall, this desktop search view is starting to look a lot more like mobile, trimming the sidebar listings in favor of paid listings at the top and bottom of search results.

How is this affecting Paid Search ads?

These kinds of changes, much like algorithm updates, always roll out slowly. Therefore, dramatic impacts to campaign results are difficult to see immediately. Now that a few weeks have passed since the news first broke, marketers are beginning to see interesting trends.

  1. Now that there are 4 ad positions at the top of search results, some advertisers are seeing significant increase in click-thru in the 3rd ad position
  2. With fewer ad spaces, cost-per-click might increase slightly
  3. Ultimately, there has been very little negative impact for small advertisers

After much testing and time, industry experts have seen varied results in how the Google SERP update is affecting paid search. All agree, however, that continued monitoring and careful analysis of your campaigns is the best way to see how this news is affecting your business.

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