Diversify and Conquer the Ever-Changing SERPs

Google is constantly changing their Search Engine Result Pages (SERPs), and recently caused a stir by removing ads from the right side. For years, organic positions have been changing: Traditional “organic text listings” have been shrinking, but ads have always had their place. And ads have increasingly dominated above the fold. With 4 ads on top, and no ads on the side, it’s a big visual change for desktop search, but there are opportunities.

Ad Domination

When Google makes a change, we all know by now that the change has been tested thoroughly – and will help them expand on their already 74.5 billion revenue.

For some queries, it feels like ads are the new page 1. There might be local, images, news, and perhaps some organic. What we see above the fold in these cases feels like an interstitial; something that we need to click past. With organic position 4 sometimes now falling on page 2, it’s another reason why traffic can decrease when rankings stay the same.

Brand Domination8a7dde93-a979-436e-9e94-8bb7ef33be3d

The last several years have seen bigger brands dominate both organic and ppc. Big brands get authority links more easily, and have bigger budgets on the ppc side as well. Google is not the level playing field it once seemed for small business, but is increasingly becoming a way to search for “things to buy from top brands”.

On the organic side, Google’s updates have penalized the cheap link building of smaller businesses – while favoring brands in separate efforts. Now PPC will be feeling a crunch: Fewer spots near the top is likely o increase bid prices, while removing some bargain positions with traffic at ad position 5.


Look closely at the search results your best prospects are seeing. Trust Google’s ever-changing algorithm is making the right decisions – eventually – and use it to your advantage; both organically and in your ad campaign.

  1. Diversify

Check the SERPs for your favorite target keywords and ask yourself: “What content are prospects looking for with this query?” Luckily, Google has already measured for you! There are a variety of research tools to discover what content is getting clicked, linked, liked, shared, visited, etc. But Google is also figuring this out or you- and really has the final say. Consider the types of content Google has chosen for your query:

– Images

– News

– In-depth Articles

– Direct Answers

– Apps

And are images above organic text listings? That’s Google telling what is most important to people conducting this query!

What content you see should be taken into account with your SEO Strategy. Great opportunities abound with image search for most sites.

On the PPC side, bargains tend to match Google’s latest innovations. Inexpensive clicks are best found in the newest kinds of ads: Product Listing Ads, remarketing, video ads, etc. Smart advertisers implement these before the competition arrives. And by diversifying among different types of advertising, marketers can measure, compare and choose the most efficient. And are you using all of the features of PPC? <a href=”https://searchenginewatch.com/2016/02/23/google-kills-right-hand-side-ads-what-does-this-mean-for-sem/”>Larry Kim pointed out</a> that, since the change, “now all ads can use call-out extensions, sitelink extensions, location extensions, etc.” That’s a huge opportunity to raise CTR in any position, especially if you implement before the ads next to yours.

  2.  Piggyback

Organic opportunities abound for those watching the SERPS. What sites are at the top of the results? Identify each organic slot as competitor or potential link partner. Those wikipedia pages at the top of many queries can become your next source of great referral traffic. And something Google increasingly references as it scrapes and answers related queries.

In the world of PPC, there are also opportunities to piggyback. See apps in the mobile results? Consider in-app advertising. Any site listed in Google’s top results is worth investigating as a potential advertising opportunity, as well. Consider Google your “advertising research engine” for the best sites.

As more ads and different kinds of ads are introduced, Google still gives opportunities to nimble marketers. Use Google’s SERPs to research both the content and advertising landscape of your best prospects. And then implement before your competitors.

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