Google SERP Changes have Big Impacts
Search Engine Result Page Changes
Google SERP changes mean there are now no text ads on the right. This is to standardise the look on both phones and desktops. Now there is 3 at the top, and 4 at the bottom. This change has meant that there is a loss of top of the page ads from as many as 11 to now 3.
Here’s what it used to look like;
At the same time, ads have grown larger not just with sitelinks and enlarged text formats with more characters.
So consequently, the advertising space is much more competitive, and ad rank has a greater impact.
But Google is not taking less money due to less space on adverts. Oh no. Because there are less ads competing with each other, but they occupy the main visible space, there is probably no difference in the number of ad clicks. And cos there are less ads, you will pay just as much per click on average.
More Competition Than Ever, higher CPC?
However, what really affects the campaign performance is that you have to push the ad to a higher, premium position to generate enough clicks to ascertain if it is effective for you. The ability to select more middle-of-the road bids and get decent exposure to trial keywords and ads, is now reduced. We see this in terms of keywords whose average position is below 2 or 3 taking a long time to generate data. We see generally more traffic is going through a small core of keywords.
So, you need aggresive bids, and that can seriously harm CPA, and upset your budget. To get around this you need to quickly optimise your ad scheduling, choosing when to push keywords to top positions. And you have to super optimise in terms of negative keywords and identify highly profitable exact match varients. We also find that we need to trial batches of keywords for a period until enough spend has accrued to evaluate, then switch off those with poor results.
Because it’s now more ‘all-or-nothing’, your ad text strongly effects Click Through Rates. And that, can be a *bad* thing, as well as good. Normally, you might want a low cost per click bid, but a high CTR because this got you a good CPA. We can envisage that a moderately low CTR might be key to a good CPA, since in theory cost per clicks will go up with fewer ads. We only want the relevant traffic, that is, people who will commit.
Focus on CPA, Scheduling, location
It makes sense therefore, more than ever, to optimise everything not for clicks and web traffic, but CPA. This applies to your keyword bids, and to your adverts.
Scheduling is important. One strategy is to split out those keywords that have poorer CPA into a different campaign. In this campaign you would more aggresively adjust down bids in your ad schedule at times of poor CPA. This limits the exposure to when they are profitable. For example, there may be times of the day when there is less competition and CPC is lower. If you optimise for CPA, then it doesn’t matter *why* they may be more profitable at those times. But you will find that your optimisation is better adjusted by splitting out keywords like this. We also find that often if you leave Google to optimise bids on ‘target CPA’, you get poorer results. One reason for this is because you have no control over the bids in ad scheduling, location or on devices, with Target CPA bidding. If you are good at optimising and analysing your campaigns, manual control can give better results. The same applies to location targeting. Splitting higher and poorer keywords into different campaigns allows you to change your location targeting. Identify the most profitable locations, plug only these into your low performing campaign, ans see if the CPA improves.
However, there are some opportunities. If you are advertising on the Shopping network, you still get the best real estate across the top of the page. And there is less competition from paid ads.
In conclusion, it’s now more important to advertise on Shopping, and optimise your search campaigns.