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Why Your SEO Strategy Just Got a Little Harder

Last month, Google implemented a significant change to its search results page layout that’s likely to impact your digital strategy; it removed paid advertisements (AdWords) from the right sidebar for desktop users.
Instead, 4 text ads will be displayed above organic search results and 3 text ads will appear at the bottom of the page—none will be shown in the right column. There are two exceptions to this new style: product listing ads and ads in the knowledge panel.
While this might seem insignificant, it has the potential to impact your digital strategy in a big way, even if you don’t use AdWords.

1, 2, 3, 4 and Then No More

Before, if you were in spot 5 or 6, your ad might still be visible on the homepage. That’s not the case now. So, if you want your AdWords to be seen, you may have to increase your bids. That means you’ll either get less traffic for the same amount of money or have to increase your budget in order to maintain the same level of clicks. Worse, with everyone doing the same, it’s likely to start a bidding war as everyone clamors to maintain front-page visibility, which leads to ever-increasing prices.
With this in mind, now is a good time to re-evaluate your keyword and bidding strategy, as well as review and more closely monitor the ROI on your campaign to ensure it stays profitable.

Organic Search Now ‘Below the Fold’

Due to the change, in some (but not all) cases, the first organic search result now falls below the fold, so users will have to scroll in order to see your listing. This could mean bad news for sites ranked in the first 5 positions because click-through rates are likely to drop. It could also lead to a more competitive organic search landscape, as your competitors shift dollars away from AdWords and into SEO strategies.


Time to Pay-to-Play

Whether your digital strategy includes AdWords, SEO or both, Google’s just made the game a little harder. Why would they do that, you ask? Most people believe the simplest answer: to make more money. Regardless of the reason, it’s pretty clear that in order to be successful, you’ll need to “pay to play.”

What the Future Holds

This change may seem sudden, but it laid beneath the surface for quite some time. Google has tested text displays for almost 6 years. It’s too soon to tell what Google’s next move will be, but it’s fair to expect some other major change is on the way.
In the meantime, focus on refining your digital strategy so that you remain competitive. If we’re helping you, we’ll be reviewing your account and offering relevant tweaks. And if we’re not, but you need help, please give us a call or send us a message. We’re always happy to help!

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Beth is our VP of Digital Marketing Strategy who, besides drinking a ridiculous amount of coffee, helps clients generate more business. Whether they’ve partnered with Proximity Marketing for a decade or just joined the family, Beth helps clients achieve success and achieve measurable results.

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