serp adwords

Here is the brutal truth: optimising AdWords is more important than ever, and here is why.

Last month, Google removed the right hand side adverts on its desktop search results. We already covered this topic in our blog post “A change to the way we Google”.  Let’s recapitulate the main ideas and try to understand the outcomes.
This change to SERPs brings, amongst other things, a more consistent experience for users switching between the mobile and the desktop environment. Google has compensated by increasing the number of top paid ads from three to four for competitive terms. If we take into account the three paid slots at the bottom, on the first page we now have 7 total spots instead of the previous 11. This equates to 36% less chances to have your ad appearing on page one.

What does that mean?

In simple terms: more competition and higher minimum CPCs.

This will eventually drive up advertising costs, particularly if your AdWords are not optimised.
Now, according to Google estimates, the top of the page minimum CPCs declined for about two weeks. Which makes sense, given that advertisers now four bites of the cherry to get at the top of the page, as opposed to originally having to compete for one of only three spots.

But here is the bad news: they started to ramp up again, and they are climbing steadily.

And it gets worse. Comparing last month’s data, to the same period of 2015, shows that first page minimum bids are growing at a faster rate since the removal of right tail text ads.


Source: Merkle RKG’s blog post

However, it’s not all bad news. Thankfully there are two factors in particular that are mitigating the impact of the changes:

  • The bottom ads are performing better than expected and have picked up some of the share that used to be attributed to the now defunct right hand side ads.
  • Some keywords are still relatively uncompetitive. In these instances, you don’t need to outbid competitors on price to get to the first page, but rather just need to meet minimum ad rank requirements, so this will not be impacted by the decreased inventory available.


So what’s the bottom line?

Optimising AdWords is more important than ever.
AdWords has evolved into a complex and sophisticated tool. Google Adwords campaigns demand attention and require dedicated expertise to keep up with changes in order to generate a return on investment.

If you get it right however, then there’s benefits to be found. Optimising your keywords and campaigns on a regular basis can bring more cost effective traffic to your website and ultimately drive growth for your organization.