Is Google AdWords pushing SEO to page 2?

by Esteban Martinez
01 February 2017
Is Google AdWords pushing SEO to page 2
Hot on the heels of a number of key changes to Google AdWords, Director of SEM Esteban Martinez ponders the potential impact on SEO.

January 2017 has seen more changes rolled out from AdWords than in all of 2016; and possibly the company's history.

Some key changes have included:

  • Replacement of Search Standard Ads with Expanded Text Ads
  • Discontinuation of traditional Display Ads for Responsive Ads
  • Introduction of paid ads carousel for local search
  • Testing of different AdWords Ad label colours

Expanded Text Ads (ETAs)

ETAs were first announced back in May 2016 during the Google Performance Summit. This new format increased the number of characters in the Search ads by 79%, from the standard 25-35-35 to 30-30-80-15-15.

Google AdWords Expanded Text Ad

Screenshot from Google AdWords video below: Expanded Text Ads before and after.

Not only did we get 75 extra characters to play with, but the way in which the new paid ads appear in the Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) is very similar to the organic listings.

Watch this video from Google explaining ETAs.

While the ETA format has been available for some time, Google has given the deadline to switch to ETA by 31 January 2017. After this date standard ads will no longer appear in the SERPs.


Responsive Display Ads

As the name suggests, Responsive Display Ads are dynamic ads which display your marketing creative in an animated fashion. This makes for a more visually enticing ad than the the standard ads and so help capture your audience's attention.

Responsive Google Display Ads

Watch Google's video: Responsive Ads for Display - Live Stream Recording for an overview of how to use responsive ads to the full potential.

Google says: "We built responsive ads for display to help your ads adapt to the increasingly diverse mix of content types and screen sizes.”

Again the deadline for switching over to the new Responsive Ads is 31 January 2017.


Paid ads carousel for local search

This is a beta product which was first discovered by Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Round Table last week (Jan 2017). This latest product offers a carousel of paid Google Business listings for local search results much like the new AMP listing on mobile devices.

@SilverbackStrat spotted Google testing a new ad format for local search

Virginian Search Marketing company Silverback Strategies tweeted shots of Google testing local search ad layouts.

These ads appear at the very top of the SERPs, with a map of the location and pin of businesses below. Originally local SEO results dominated this space, but now this seems to be an area where new paid ads are appearing. As this is still in development, I'm sure there will be a number of different styles of paid local ads which appear over the coming months.

AdWords Ad label colours

Just last week Ginny Marvin of Search Engine Land reported Google testing different colours for the ad label.

@matibarnes tweeted when he spotted Google testing new ad label colours

@matibarnes tweeted shots of Google testing new ad label colours.

There have been many different colours reported on social media, including black, orange, red, yellow and blue background with the standard white text. It was also spotted with a white background and green text, making it appear almost invisible to the untrained eye. 

As the visual ad label blends further into the background, unsuspecting visitors will increasingly click on the top results being paid over organic. This will significantly impact the click through rate and engagement through AdWords and leave SEO lower down the page.


Final thoughts 

While all these changes will greatly improve AdWords performance between visitors and brands, I am left wondering: to what extent will this impact SEO activity for companies wanting to appear at the top of the page?

Only time will tell.

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About the author
Esteban Martinez
Director of SEM

SEM guru, trainer and speaker, with a strong passion for helping brands to be successful online. He believes that understanding consumer behaviour is paramount to successfully target and engage with customers. Esteban has been building and optimising SEM campaigns since 2002 in the UK and now Australia.

More articles by Esteban Martinez