The ad label on Google’s text ads has had a colour change — from yellow to green. The green initiative has been in testing since April 2016 in various markets and has just been rolled out globally.
The new label colour blends in with the URL it is placed next to and to those of us that know AdWords still looks fairly obvious. But the additional space paid search is taking on the search results page and the relative lack of general comprehension as to the difference between paid and organic search results could lead to another lift in growth of paid search clicks and revenue for Google.
A February 2016 survey by UK based search marketing agency Varn of over 1,000 Google users asked the question “Do you know which links on the Google Search results page are Paid Adverts?” The results (which were similar to that of the April 2016 Ofcom study) showed that, dependant on age group, between 38% and 65% of users didn’t know the difference between a paid search and organic result.
The subtle change in colour of the ad label and upcoming release of the extended text ad format will no doubt add to the confusion and create further opportunities for those running paid search campaigns.
Why should you care?
As the mobile search result (below) shows, a well-structured campaign making good use of site extensions can take up a significant portion of the above-the-fold real estate. In this particular search (for parking at Auckland Airport), the top ad dominates the page, leaving room for only one other paid search result and a glimpse of a map.
When the same search is conducted on desktop you can see how effective use of site extensions can be, once again, pushing the competition and organic results below-the-fold.
The combination — taking full advantage of AdWords extensions, the forthcoming expanded text ads, the change of colour of the AdWords label and a lack of general comprehension — could very well increase AdWords clicks while reducing clicks on organic listings.
If you think that this reduces the importance of SEO in improving organic search rankings and performance, you’d be wrong. It simply becomes more important to make sure your organic results rank highly — not just on the first results page but in the top half of organic results.
Paid search is somewhat of a necessary evil. Like a jukebox, to keep the music playing you have to keep feeding the machine and as soon as you stop feeding cash it all stops. On the other hand, a solid and successful SEO strategy gives continuous visibility with results that are “earned”, not paid for.
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Glenn is a Partner and Senior Consultant who has had a very successful career building growth companies in the private equity arena. He has a wealth of experience in both the digital space and strategy development. Prior to becoming a partner in SureFire Glenn built one of the largest digital teams in New Zealand for a NASDAQ listed global online marketing company & Google's largest premium partner.