Either our eyes are getting closer together, or the sponsored links on Google’s search results pages are getting even closer to the organic results. Yes, it’s true.
This adjustment makes the alignment of the text ads on the right hand side start nearer the center of the browser window now.
If you haven’t noticed the adjustment in Google’s search results lately, then you may want to take another look because will likely be a permanent setting for Google’s search results. The change is even more noticeable in wider monitors. Screen resolution settings could also affect how exaggerated the shift seems.
Will this make the text ads more appealing to be clicked on? Most advertisers and Google would likely bet yes, but Google appears to still be testing this and measuring its effect on CTR and other factors.
How does this change affect AdWords advertisers?
Well, given that in general organic results are more likely clicked on than PPC ads, this could increase traffic potential for some internet marketers that rely more heavily on PPC than SEO, if indeed ads get clicked on more often.
If added traffic converts as often as existing traffic, this could be a raise in overall revenue. It also could mean campaign budgets need to be adjusted upwards, although extreme effects seem unlikely.
Given that CTR is the largest variable in AdWords Quality Score, any change that affects CTR indirectly affects QS and the ad auction, and the subtleties of how could affect the system are many. If this move does increase CTR’s for PPC ads, will the effect be proportional to ads near the top and near the bottom of the search results? How would that affect the way CTR is normalized by bid position for QS?
The difference between Google and Bing
Bing already has ads closer to their search results, so some marketers would argue that this is a case of imitation.
Bing’s results had an additional reason to have advertising neighbor up to organic results closely, though. Unlike Google’s search results, Bing has a third column on the far left with additional one-click search options, so even though the Bing ads column is close to the search results column, the ads remain further from the browser’s center than they do in Google’s results.
By Jerrold Burke
Paid Search Analyst