Google Made a Big Change & You Didn’t Even Notice

Last year, Google made a big change to its algorithm in order to give mobile-friendly websites better search engine results versus those which aren’t.

They launched a mobile-friendly test to see if your website would be impacted by the change.

Recently, Google made another change to its interface without fanfare. They just went and did it.

See anything different?


Here is a Google search results page we’re all familiar with.

Going top to bottom on the left hand side, you see ads, followed by natural organic results. To the right, there’s additional paid advertising.



Now look at the “after” photo.

See all the extra white space on the right-hand side of that picture? All those ads are now gone.

Images courtesy of Search Engine Watch

 Question marksWhy did Google make this change?

In 2015, Google announced that more people browse the web from their mobile phones than their desktop or laptop computers.

With that in mind, what’s something you don’t see on Google for your smartphone?

Correct: Paid advertising on the right-hand side. It’s all a straight column with up-and-down scrolling and no side-to-side scrolling.

Google wants to create that same experience on your desktop computer. That’s why those ads disappeared (or as one WSI Milton staffer said, “Google got naked”).

Another reason Google made this change because many of its users can’t tell the difference between ads and organic results. They just click on what appeals to them.

So, by lumping more ads in with organic results, people will click them first, not even realizing they clicked an ad.

Thinking manI have an ad campaign on Google. What does this mean for me?

In addition to taking out right-hand Pay Per Click ads, Google introduced something called “highly commercial queries” (HCQ).

When somebody searches for something that Google believes represents intent to purchase (and not just doing general research), they will serve up an extra ad.

For example, if you’re a landscape supplier in Milton and someone searches for “topsoil”, your ad may not appear. It’s too generic a search to match up with your ad.

But if someone looks for “where to buy topsoil in Milton”, Google may decide to view that as an intent to purchase.  If it does, it will serve up an extra ad at the top of the Search Results Page (SERP).

Wait a minute? Will I have to pay more for my ad campaign?

On the surface, it looks like Google is putting the law of supply and demand in motion with this recent change.

Less ad space = businesses spending more money to get it.

There are 3 things Google takes into account when it decides where your ad shows up:

  1. Your bid: Google looks at how much money you’re willing to pay for each click
  1. Your click-through-rate: When a higher percentage of people are clicking on your ad, Google deems you as more relevant, and you’ll pay less for each click
  1. Your quality score: If the ad and its landing page are relevant to what the user is looking for, Google will give you a high quality score

If you focus on your click through rate and quality score, the possible increase of cost via bid wars should be minimal.

Things you can do to make sure you’re still visible on Google

Review your natural search engine results

Organic search results are more important than ever before. Are they appealing enough? Would people be compelled to click on them, or will they simply ignore them?

See where you rank for certain terms 

Competition for space on Google is fierce. Before, it was all about being on page 1 of Google.

Claim and Optimize your Google My Business (GMB) listing 

Google’s first page, above the fold (before the use scrolls down), is now dominated by ads and ‘map’ listings. One of the key things you can do to increase the presence of your listing is to make sure every portion of your GMB is 100% complete (and we mean 100% complete).

Take a second look at your Pay Per Click ad campaign

It’s too soon to tell, but with Google effectively slashing 50% of its ad space, there’s going to be a premium on that remaining 50%. See if there’s a better way to get ROI from your PPC dollars.

Remember the good ol’ days?

You’d build a website, advertise on Google and that was that.

Today, Google (and digital marketing) is about understanding who your audience is, where they are, what they’re thinking and provide highly beneficial information to them.

To Google, your website is a fountain of information designed to help people find what they’re looking for. But it’s up to you to get people to your website by any means necessary.

That includes search engine optimization, blogging, social media marketing, customer reviews and yes, even paid advertising.

We got thisRest assured, we’ve got this covered

There are two reasons why we’re telling you about Google’s change:

  1. To inform you of something you may not have noticed, but could impact your bottom line.
  1. To tell you that we’re on it to make sure that the businesses we serve continue to get the best Return on Investment from their digital marketing.

If you have any questions about Google’s PPC changes or what it could mean for your business, give us a call (or fill in a form) today.