[Read in Nederlands]
Google has been offering search ads at the top and right side of the search results page since 2000. However, since last friday Google has decided to stop displaying search ads on the right side. As a result the balance between organic search results and search ads has shifted. In this article we will discuss the impact of this change on the click behaviour of vacancy seekers on Google.
This is what Google Search looks like since last friday
Instead of the usual 2 or 3 search ads above the organic results, the number of ads has shifted to 3 or 4 search ads for commercial relevant searches. In other words, the organic search results have been forced to let go of their highly desired #1 spot to the search ads. However, the search ads at the bottom of the page have remained untouched.
More prominent ad space for search ads
Google has stated that the update will not affect the distribution of clicks between the organic results and search ads. And here is where the discussion starts. Numerous heatmap studies have shown that the upperleft part of the search results page is the hottest spot in terms of activity. This is the area where most visitors hover their mouse over and place the most clicks. Our click data reveals that 92% of the paid clicks are received on the top 3 search ads. In other words, having more space on the top of Google equals a lot of net worth and this is exactly the benefit that the organic results will lose to the search ads.
Vacancy seekers will click more often on search ads
We expect that the increase of prominent shelf space for the search ads will lead to an increasing amount of clicks on search ads. These are our arguments:
- A simple quantity increase: we are moving from 2 or 3 search ads to an amount of 3 or 4 search ads at the top of the search results page.
- No organic results above the fold: on a large share of the desktop and laptop screens the first organic results will only become visible after the user has decided to scroll down.
- More advertisements with extensions: search ads above the search results as opposed to the ads on the right side have the option to be shown with ad extensions. Extensions enlarge the search ad with more relevant information about the product or service been advertised (for example references, store locations or links to serval sub-pages). Not three, but four ads will now be able to profit from this feature and will obtain more space on the search results page. In the example you see both advertisements with (the 1st, 2nd, 4th) and without extensions (the 3rd).
- Search ads are now less recognisable: a 2012 survey of Wordstream already demonstrated that 45,5% of the searchers will not be able to distinguish search ads from organic results if there are no ads shown on the right side. Moreover, search ads have already been made less recognisable when their appearance was altered to make them more in sync with the layout of mobile ads.
To get search ads at the top of Google: gets more tricky for recruiters
As a result of less search ads being shown above the fold, the competition on these ads will increase. Advertisers will be left with two options to improve their position in the ad auction. The first option will be to bid higher for ad clicks and the second option will be to improve the quality of their search ad campaign. We expect the demand for professional maintenance and bid management to increase. Moreover, traffic driven online job boards and comparison websites will have a harder time as their business model drives on buying traffic for a cheap price and selling it for a higher cost per click.
Conclusion: four implications for recruiters
- The dominance of Google Adwords in the online marketing mix will increase.
- Competition in the Google Adwords auction will increase due to fewer search ads above the fold.
- Advertisers will need to manage their search ads more professionally to meet the higher demands of the more competitive environment.
- And before we forget: the competition for top positions in SEO is also expected to intensify as the new situation will make these less visible, i.e. often only display the first one or two organic results.
Do you have any questions about the new Google Search page or are you looking for some advertising advise? Please don't hesitate to get in touch. Finally, this infographic from Wordstream is worth watching!