Recently, Google made some changes to their search engine results page (SERP) and the changes are raising some major questions. Searches on their database will no longer feature sidebar ads, but they will include up to four ads above the results for a search. The issue this creates is an effect on organic search results that has marketers questioning the value of this change. It seems, on the surface, that this will dilute the waters of organic searches and be overall negative. When four sponsored ads are visible above organic results it will affect the number of readily available results with validity and will cause users to scroll down before seeing any organic results. It could potentially and significantly affect paid and organic search.
What Marketers Need to Know
Inevitably, the two major effects this change will produce will be in both marketing strategy and layout.
Where PPC marketing is concerned, the impact will vary. The new layout will allow for more ads at the top of the SERP for a majority of the time, but with the removal of sidebar ads the overall number of ads on the page will still decrease. This levels the playing field a bit, but ads that are included will have been specifically designed and engineered by Google to appear more natural in their inclusion and more visually appealing to consumers which will make the spots more sought-after and could raise prices for the paid spots markedly. For companies with less fiscal focus on marketing this could drastically change up their focus and plan. With different ways to refocus at that point, some will turn their attention to lower cost keywords while others will look into heightening organic search performance and, predictably, giving more overall focus to the organic result which could be the answer to leveraging his new system in your favor.
In an already competitive market, these changes will really only continue to drive further competition between brands. When watching an adversary succeed it is only natural and good business to follow up with a plan of your own to challenge their success and these plans will now ultimately be about optimizing organic and content strategies and that doesn’t have to be negative. It could be the key to improving overall business.
How Marketers Can Make Their Content Stand Out
The new game in Google SERP will be about ensuring you know your customer base and your content inside and out in order to make your results stand out. This will be about building a consumer trust and status as a reliable brand. You want customers to see your name and immediately trust that your results will lead them where they want or need to go. Brands can reach this point of consumer dependence by simply ensuring that the content they produce is of the highest quality, answers a need from the consumer, and is of interest to the consumer. They will need to do their research and know what is being asked for to create effective content for all those avenues. Content should be varied as well to meet varied needs of the consumer market. Articles will not cover all bases. Brands should also include content in video and infographic form to address the full audience. This will all need to be monitored as well. Tracking success and failure rate will help determine what is and isn’t working as stats change and fluctuate over time.
Social media will take on a bigger role at this point as well. Social accounts simply give you consumer access that you cannot get from other avenues. It gives you direct contact and opportunities to interact with customers. Creating a friendly and helpful social voice instills customer confidence in your brand and propels your reputation building in a positive direction. Social media also helps your brand flourish by growing your audience. The more you put your content out there through social searches, the more individuals the content will reach. As social media attention to your content grows so will your search rankings because you are receiving higher traffic rates and engagement.
Brands should not let this new campaign stop on the web either. Overall business relations with customers will unavoidably effect your search optimization plan or any business plan for that matter. Pleasing customers through the actual services, trades, or goods you provide builds better ratings on review sites like Yelp. These sites have become so popular that they can have a huge impact on business and they give you a bigger online footprint. With positive or negative public feedback a brands receives the same positive or negative result. It’s all about pleasing those you serve.
Local and Places
In this growing and changing industry it is also important to make sure you stay relevant next to the newly prominent ad spaces. Make sure your content is the best it can be and funnel significant resources into achieving that. Ads will only continue to become more visually enticing to consumers and brands should want their content to be just as visually evolved and engaging. Meta tags and schema need to take on new importance to give you the best possible representation and opportunity for rich snippets to better show your potential.
Optimizing local success is helpful as well. While some brands focus on doing business primarily online, those that do have physical locations should build themselves up as much as possible there. Not only does that just make good business sense, but it can improve online traffic as well.
Five steps to succeeding on the new Google SERP
Step 1: Build content and material that serves your customer’s needs based on proven data. Give consumers what they need in different content forms and follow the success of each to learn what is most effective at which point.
Step 2: Do not forget the value of improving local business and its importance to overall success.
Step 3: Utilize social media to connect with your audience and build a dependable brand image. Pair this with both content and search optimization for a triple threat that improves search rankings through backlinks and customer engagement.
Step 4: Match your content to the aesthetic appeal in featured ads to remain competitive and be sure to utilize meta tags and schemas to draw as much attention as possible to the brand.
Step 5: Monitor how well your efforts are performing in the market and adjust accordingly. Your stats will fluctuate over time and the only way to know how this SERP change is impacting you is to watch results.
Overall this Google SERP change does not have to be entirely negative. The major points to reach success will still be creating the most positive experience for customers while optimizing online presence. Simply learning how to work within the new system is key to making it work for you.