In the middle of February, give or take a few days, Google snuffed out the ads that were showing on the right-side of the screen for desktop-oriented search results. What this has ultimately done is increase awareness (and competition) for the top-bar results that show directly underneath the search box. Some have speculated that this is going to make cost-per-click (CPC) go up exponentially, while others like us, assumed that it may increase slightly, but not be catastrophic. Many also assumed that Google was doing this solely just to increase their profits. That is a loaded statement. Sure, Google is always pursuing new ways to earn money, but what for-profit company isn't? Wouldn't you look at new ways to be profitable if it meant staying in the black versus the red? If anything, Google has a good track record of being purposeful for changes to it's Google Search Engine and Google AdWords engine.
Google Adwords: Small Businesses are still competitive
Just because there is less Ad real estate on searches doesn't automatically exclude those with smaller budgets out of the competition. We have seen a slight uptick in Click-Through-Rate (CTR) after the Google SERP update in mid-February. Perhaps that was one of the many reasons why Google did this? Another reason why businesses with smaller budgets like $10k per month versus bigger companies that spend $100k per month is the fact that traditionally, the business with the smaller budget pays more attention to the details of their budget. Other factors include improving quality scores with modifications to the landing pages, etc., to go with the Ads being shown. The idea is not new, and Google has mentioned the "how" on this several times over. We have become in tune with making our clients beat out the manufacturer's ads on several occasions, so we know it can be done despite a larger budget.
Google SERP: Results of the Change
One of the biggest changes that SEOs (MXS included) noticed is the drop in Impressions for our Ads, and this was across the board. It makes sense that instead of seeing up to 11 Ads on a search results page, we now see it capped at 7 Ads. If you don't show up in those 7 (or less), then that is (1) impression less than you had before. We strive to hit (and keep) our clients in the #1 spot for very targeted keyword phrases that make sense for their business. With having less Impressions now per Ads, and keeping someone consistent click average, our CTR is increasing somewhat across the board.
We can't have a better, more descriptive heading than "Mobile". This word can come in many forms, but for Google AdWords, this is the new King-of-the-hill word that Google wants to see in their Ads, the sites and landing pages for these Ads. If your page, site and/or Ad is not going the mobile-friendly route, you are going to be losing traffic to your competitors that are mobile-friendly. This uptick has been happening for a few years now, and mostly caught fire in the last two years with no signs of slowing down. Desktop, still has searches, but Mobile, for some of our clients, has eclipsed Desktop searches on average. This does not include Tablet searches as they are in their own category.