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Google's ad listings are about to change: Here's what your SMB needs to know

23 Aug 2016

Huge changes are afoot about how Google's search listings and ads will operate from October, and some fear it will have adverse effects for SMEs relying on search engine traffic.

Text ads will be expanded by 50%, which some say blurs the line between organic search results and advertising.

Chris Price, CEO of search engine optimisation company Ark Advance, believes that Google advertising costs will probably go up, while organic search results will be of lesser value.

"This is a significant change to the Internet. New Zealand companies that rely on Google traffic for sales need to make sure they understand what is happening and how they will respond to the introduction of Expanded Text Ads," he says.

"Google has already moved its text Adwords off the side of the search results page, whilst also including an additional advertising slot for some search results, sparking more competition for listings at the top and bottom of the page. As a result, organic listings are further down the page, so that people often have to scroll down to the organic listings below the so-called fold," he continues.

Price explains that Adwords will have to be more of a focus for businesses trying to compete against expanded text ads.

"I expect that companies will need to get their Adwords best practise spot on to be competitive," he says.

The expanded text ads will also be optimised for the increasingly popular mobile search method, shrinking character limits.

"So instead of 25 characters for a heading and two 35 characters of description, you now have two 30-character headlines and one sizable 80-character description – organic listings may start to look dinky and less appealing by comparison," he explains.

Price makes sure to mention that the increased ad size is not always better, instead it's the copywriting quality that can make or break an ad. He provides a few tips for SMEs wanting to improve conversion rates from Google Adwords:

  • Update your Adwords account to accommodate the new format, as any remainer in the older form may look distorted and unattractive to viewers
  • Use extra space wisely - compelling messages will get viewers to click ads
  • Use your credibility as a selling point - years of experience or scope of previously solved problems
  • Keep track of your Google advertising as the changes are made. Adjust failing campaigns and get in before your competitors.

"New Zealand SMEs that rely on organic listings to generate sales leads may see a drop in traffic as organic becomes less prominent within the search results. Those that rely on Google Adwords may need to ensure that they have a strong sales message because competition will increase and clicks may come at a higher cost and become harder to find," Price concludes.

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