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The Search Engine Giant’s Layout Is Optimized For Paid Results

Landing a spot “above the fold” in Google search results is becoming nearly impossible. Why? Recent changes to Google’s search result pages give paid ads almost total control of the screen, especially before a user has to scroll down.

Before the update, 10 organic search results showed up. Now that number ranges from five to 10, with an average of seven.

In addition, Google redesigned the “Ad” label that accompanies paid ad listings to resemble organic search results. While Google claims the new iteration is more prominent, users have a difficult time differentiating it. This is not the only change. The ad label is now in bolded black text and the URL sits atop the headline text and is in black font, as well. These changes have rendered paid ads almost identical to organic search results.


Google’s Organic Results Play Second Fiddle

Actions speak louder than words and Google spoke loudly when it unceremoniously dumped 5.5% of organic search results for paid listings, according to WordStream. Fighting to rank in the top five or top seven is significantly more difficult than ranking in the top 10.

Branded results may also encounter challenges in making the top 5-7. Listings without site links have a more dominant presence than those with site links.

Ultimately, these changes that Google made and will continue to make mean that you will have an uphill battle ahead if you focus your efforts exclusively on organic search results and ignore paid any longer. And the repercussions do not end there.


Below The Fold & Under The Radar

Customer perception is everything when it comes to building your brand’s image. Search results that fall “below the fold” – that is, the bottom half of the screen that is invisible unless you scroll down – appear as less authoritative and illegitimate to customers. They may very well dismiss your business without knowing a thing about it based on this idea alone.

It is no coincidence that Google has been gradually pushing organic search results further and further off the screen since 2013. The search engine powerhouse is clearly taking steps to make paid results appear more appealing to customers than organic listings.

After all, Google has a greedy goal of $300B to reach no matter how many small businesses they have to trample to get there.


Get Back On Top

Google’s favoritism of paid search results shows no signs of slowing down. If anything, the trend will only grow stronger over the next few years. Rather than trying to keep your head above water by using organic listings exclusively, it is best to branch out by investing in various pay-per-click (PPC) campaigns or increasing your current ad budget.

That said, achieving success with paid ads depends on setting up and executing your campaigns in a knowledgeable and skillful way. Trying to do it in-house is like flushing your money down the toilet. It is best to rely on experienced marketing professionals to maximize results within your budget, or at the very least, utilize the same tips and strategies the big dogs are using.


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