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All change at Google, but where does your website stand?

The team at Urban River, a Design Network North member and Rise and Design sponsor, have kindly contributed to our blog this month. Read on to gain some valuable insight from their experts.

It’s fair to say it’s been a busy few weeks for Google. Not just happy with changes to how it displays its AdWords search results, they’ve also rolled out their new Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) project to the wider world and quietly moved to shut down their Google Compare service. What does this all mean for the state of search in 2016? Well let’s take a look at things in a little more detail.

Changes to AdWords Search Results

As of late February, Google has ceased showing ads on the right hand side of the page, except for some product listing ads.

Google are now only showing 7 ads per page. In an increase on the original 3 ad results at the top of the page, there will now be 4 ads shown above the organic results and 3 below. In a desktop departure that is now representative of their mobile results, this is the biggest change to the search engine results pages for quite some time, but what does it mean for you?

1. Be prepared to pay more

With fewer ad spaces available, the shoot out for the new top 4 positions could well get fierce. Google are not fools and will have done their research to ensure the future profitability of AdWords due to increased competition and sidebar ads historically having a poorer click-through-rate across the board.

2. SEO suffers again

Yet again organic results are being pushed even further down the page. With local map results prevalent on most searches too, the chances of appearing above the fold is getting more and more unlikely.

3. Get optimised

Ensuring you are utilising the full suite of available ad extensions AdWords provides has never become more important. Making your ads stand out over your competition by improving your click-through-rate and ad rank won’t stop it, but will help to limit the bids you’ll need to increase.

4. Hang on just a second

Don’t make any rash decisions. Monitor your traffic; keep an eye on average position and your Top vs Other report segment. If you are seeing fluctuations, it is far better to make an informed decision than just upping your bids in a knee jerk reaction. Always remember this change affects everyone equally and your competitors may react differently. Your ROI is your goal, not to chase position one out of vanity.

Google Compare is no more

On the 23rd March, Google’s Compare service will shut down in both the US and UK. Although some may think they were just another third party Google ad, they were in fact Google’s own soiree in the world of price comparison sites.

Typically found for ‘Car Insurance’ and ‘Mortgage’ searches, they were lambasted by many for being anti competition and giving them and their financial partners an unfair advantage. So why make this decision? Well the cynics amongst us would say, “Ok, so you’ve removed your comparison results, but hey! Look at that fourth new ad position you’ve created at the top of the page!” Now I’m not saying one financially trumps the other, but given Google’s business acumen, you’d be hard pressed to not see a link between the two.

Google Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP)

After being announced back in October and released to a chosen few (typically online news) outlets, Google’s Accelerated Mobile Pages (AMP) Project has now been rolled out to all. In a move that in Google’s own words strives for a “better, faster, mobile internet”, what exactly is AMP?
Accelerated Mobile Pages are a super light version of the mobile web which run on a bare bones version of HTML. AMP HTML or HTML-lite if you will, removes most of the elements that cause web pages to load slower, such as third party code and JavaScript.

Google boasts that AMP pages will load anywhere between 15-85% faster than regular mobile pages, which from a user experience point of view is great, but also as you’ve probably guessed, websites adopting the standard will see a boost in rankings. So for those that bang the SEO is dead drum, at least in a technical sense, things are very much alive.

Not only will these pages received a rankings boost, they will also be accompanied with a little green lightning bolt labelled with AMP, so mobile user know that page is optimised and will load faster.

So where does it leave us, well with an 86% market share we’ll continue to be at Google’s beck and call and savvy marketers will continue to adapt as we always have done. It’s all about maximising your visibility and understanding search intent and that my fellow marketers is luckily not solely down to Google’s control.

If you’re looking for guidance amongst the search landscape, talk toNewcastle Marketing Agency Urban River today, for just an hour of your time it just might be the most important thing you do for your business today. Call us on 0191 423 5688 or email us at info@urbanriver.com