New Changes to Google AdWords Could Affect SMB Ad Budgets
If you have your ear to the ground of the digital marketing world, you may have heard some angry rumblings over the last day or so about a sudden change that went into effect for the popular Google AdWords platform.
In the past, when you searched for a query on Google, you saw three paid ads on the top of the page, followed by some local results and then organic search results underneath that. In the right sidebar, you’d find another 6-8 ads lined up, as well. Now, Google is doing away with the lower-cost (and less competitive) text ads that showed up in the right sidebar. The full list of changes that are rolling out immediately are below.
Changes to the Google PPC Desktop Platform include:
- No more text ads in the right sidebar on Google desktop searches
- There will be 3-4 ads on the top of the page of SERPS
- Potential for 3 more ads at the bottom of SERPs
- For queries that are considered “highly commercial”,Google will show 4 ads at the top of SERPs (Google’s definition of “highly commercial” is sort of vague, but most people think that it means searches that have stronger intent to purchase. For example, searches around hotels or car insurance)
- Ad Blocks and Knowledge Panels will still show up occasionally for queries in the right sidebar
- These changes are rolling out globally and are not just relegated to U.S. searches
This may not sound like a big deal, but it does have some potentially serious implications for businesses that use PPC to drive traffic to their website or their brick and mortar store – especially for SMBs. For starters, this is likely to make the top 3-4 spots much more competitive and much more expensive, which could result in companies with smaller ad budgets being outbid by much larger companies who can afford to target highly competitive and broader search terms. It also has the potential to affect organic search results, since more PPC ads on the page means less room for organic results.
If your company is relying heavily on PPC ads to drive traffic and leads to your business, you’re going to need a plan of attack in order to remain competitive in this new PPC landscape. We’ve consulted with our internal PPC team and come up with some initial ways to pivot your PPC campaigns so that you won’t be hit as hard by the changes:
- Companies will need to push harder (and spend more) initially to get to the top of SERPs and collect some initial data on your keywords, their costs, and their competitiveness. You’ll need to spend more in the earlier months, and then ramp down as you zero in on what’s working and what isn’t. This has always been a strategy that we suggested to clients, but more and more it’s looking like the only reasonable way to go.
- Focus on niche and long-tail keywords, rather than broad keywords. Cost-per-click is very likely going to skyrocket with these new changes – especially with highly competitive broad keywords. Moving forward, companies need to test out long-tail keywords with broader keywords, and kill off keywords that aren’t performing well quickly in order to preserve ad budgets.
- Allocate some portion of your PPC budget to branded terms to make up for lost organic rankings. In fact, if you don’t spend money on branded terms, your competitors can run ads for your branded terms to push you further down the page (or onto the next one)
- Businesses will need to expand their online advertising to other channels, such as remarketing. This can help keep your company top-of-mind for searches that don’t have as strong of a purchase intent.
Now could be the time to revisit your comprehensive digital marketing strategy. A comprehensive digital marketing strategy that includes SEO, SEM, Social, Content, newsletters, and other well engineered tactics will help you outsmart your competition. Like in football, you need to have all the players in proper position doing their job to win the game.
Q1 is almost behind us – don’t wait to educate your internal team, digital marketing agency, or to contact 190west – we might be able to help you architect a better strategy.