Keen-eyed people would notice that Google mobile search results look a little different. The company has been tweaking its mobile search results SERPs for a long time now. They’ve been adding and subtracting things to best utilize the smart phone screen and abilities.
The real estate on the smart phone screens are far less generous than a laptop or even a tablet screen. Naturally, Google needed to design it in such a way that people’s attention was drawn to the paid ads. Unfortunately, this has come at a cost.
How Organic Results were Affected
Consider your smartphone screen for a moment. The latest models range from 5” to 6” screens. No matter what the orientation is, the screen is smaller than other devices. Google has modified the SERPs in such a way that you can’t see the organic results of the search without scrolling down the page. Some experts think that this might be due to the changes mentioned below.
Because of these changes, the organic searches on mobile dropped in volume from 51% in one quarter to 20% in other. That’s a 31% decline, which is quite substantial. This seems to correspond to a growth in Google’s ad revenue. The substantial growth means the changes the company implemented in mobile SERPs are working to their advantage. Let’s look at the changes below.
Increase in ads above the fold
The first thing you’ll notice is that the number of ads above the fold has increased. Google used to add 2 ads over the organic search results and now they add three. This has pushed organic results further down the SERP. In fact, in several cases, the organic results aren’t even visible above the fold.
Google did mention that they were going to focus on increasing their mobile search revenue and this might be a way to do that. There was a very clear increase in the company’s mobile revenue. Most users tend to avoid ads in general. They’re willing to scroll down the SERPs to get to the organic results but something about three listings instead of two has hit the sweet spot.
One would’ve assumed that the higher level of competition would’ve actually decreased the CTR, but that hasn’t been the case with this. This has affected the numbers of impressions on websites as well has year-over-year phone impressions. Needless to say, Google’s new formula is working well.
- On-Screen Real Estate
As we mentioned in the introduction, paid ads take up a lot of space. It’s only on keen comparison that we realized the amount of space utilized by the ads hasn’t changed. The older ads where larger and took up the screen. The new ads are smaller and do take up the same amount of screen. The company has also added a few more ads to the SERPs and they are situated lower in the SERPs. Ironically, this has also led to a rise in CTR.
The fact that more on-screen space isn’t used and it’s still driving CTR is odd. Maybe users are simply tired of scrolling down to the organic results. Whatever the reasons might be, it’s clear that Google must’ve AB tested like crazy before coming up with such an accurate way to nail mobile ads.
- Product Listing Ads or PLA
The product listing ads have also grown larger. They now dominate the space, taking up much of the screen. Situated under the PLAs are the normal text ads, under which are the organic results. Ironically, unlike the text ads, the PLAs have actually seen a drop in the CTR since the size was enhanced. There are expandable shopping ads on the cards which would utilize the touch screen interactive interface. Users might be able to expand the ads. This is clearly illustrated by Google here.
One of the reasons for the drop might be that the CTR is lower now than it was a few months earlier might be because Google Search Partner websites are providing lower CTR rates. The number has declined from 98% of the PLA search partner impressions to 57%.
The shopping ads also have a button that would lead directly to the dedicated store app. For example, the shopping ad of a product available on Amazon will contain a button that would lead the user straight to that particular app. There you can easily find new data on the product and proceed to checkout.
More Optimizations Would Be Heading Our Way
As we mentioned earlier, Google wants to increase its revenue from mobile platforms. They’ll continue tweaking the system and adding new things until they deem it ready. The company is planning to add Purchase, which would allow the users to make purchases and check-out without visiting the merchant website.
Purchase hasn’t yet been fully tested but initial impressions indicate that it would only increase CTR and conversions. Google says that the intent behind Purchase is to ease the user experience. The users won’t be forced to a different website and cart before paying for their product there.
By adding Purchase, Google has completed Shopping, one would say. According to most experts, the ability to check out, view reviews and ratings and get the right price would increase the appeal of Google Shopping. We’ll see how the users react when Purchase rolls out.
Regardless of the changes, users can expect the PPC and CPC rates to increase soon enough; that would strain any budget. The company is also making excellent use of Google Now cards and voice search to give your ads more exposure.
If you have any questions at all about mobile ads and digital marketing, etc, you can contact Christopher Savage. You can get in touch with us by filling in the contact us form at the bottom of this page and we’ll get back to you as soon as possible. You can also give us a call on 954 633 2963.