As of February, Google rolled out an entirely new layout in which they removed the ads on the right side of the webpage and added a fourth paid ad on top of organic search results. Businesses paying for ads are rejoicing while organic SEO results are less than pleased with the change.
Google announced that this change is “designed for highly commercial queries where the layout is able to provide more relevant results for people searching.” This means that the ads are going to be present on searches where people have expressed an inherent intent to buy, i.e. “appliance repair San Diego” will show the four ads.
The ads have been implemented on all Google search layouts across the globe, on mobile devices, and in all languages.
What About Local SEO?
This means big things for Local SEO, especially on the mobile front. Local search ads on your computer can be less intrusive, but local search ads on your mobile device take it to another level.
As seen in the above image, these 4 ads on Google take up the ENTIRE SCREEN! The wide majority of consumers skip ads and click on organic results, but Google seems to be forcing them down our throats on mobile.
And to make it worse…they’re adding more text in ads!!
Finding the right title and meta description that fits within Google’s character limit has always been a struggle for advertisers looking to be clever AND informative, but Google has just made it easier to do both by extending text ads. These ads will be able to cover almost 50% more space, and include a more pronounced headline for visibility.
These changes are set to be rolled out over the next year, with Google releasing the expanded text ads (ETA) first, then slowly ceasing service for their current standard text ads as ETAs take their place. Advertisers are excited to see this, but organic search results are not happy. With a fourth ad placed above organic search, and now ETAs adding more page space to these ads, many businesses are getting frustrated with how far down the page these ads are pushing their organic search results.
The Organic SEO Results Keep Getting Pushed Down by Google Ads
The newest addition to Google’s ad overload has been implemented on restaurant and entertainment searches earlier this month. The new search feature is called “must-try” which produces a carousel of reviews about restaurants and attractions related to your search. These reviews are predominantly coming from Zagat, which Google owns, as well as other publishers.
Review sites such as Yelp and TripAdvisor are in uproar because their site’s reviews are pushed even further down the page. The review sites are serious in enacting change within Google’s business strategy as they are complainants in the European’s antitrust case against Google. This case is examining whether the search engine is promoting its own products over competitors. The antitrust investigation was dropped in 2013 by the US Federal Trade Commission.
An example of searching on the Google app for suggestions on the best places to eat in New York City
All of these ad changes could lead to a potential backlash from consumers and the Google “Don’t Be Evil” mantra could be fading. In fact, Alphabet, which is Google’s new holding company, officially dropped the code of conduct last year for a new business code of conduct that is not as original. The change was put in place to supposedly attract new investors and help expand Google outside of its comfort bubble of search and search advertising.
With the changes that Google has implemented this year, being on top of your businesses Local SEO is more important than ever, especially on mobile devices. If you are not on Page 1 for the majority of your locations, then talk to Chatmeter who can provide a free analysis and consultation to point you in the right direction. Learn more now!