Well, folks, it looks like we’ve got another Google SERP change on our hands. It turns out that Google is not making nearly enough billions of dollars on PPC ads, so they’re opening up some additional screen real estate for ads by placing additional AdWords ads at the bottom of the page. While this is no doubt a great win for Google, I’m a little skeptical that this is going to be a good thing for advertisers.
I’m basing my assumption on the various heatmaps I’ve seen regarding user eye tracking on Google search result pages. Amit Banerjee writing for Ampercent has a couple of great Google SERP heatmaps here – go take a look. Notice any trends? Like, for example, the fact that almost nobody looks at the very bottom of the page? If you don’t believe me, take a look at your own AdWords stats. Compare your click totals and click-through rates of something showing in position 1-3 vs. something at 8-10. If you don’t show up on at least the first half of the page, your traffic numbers are in the dumps.
Google claims that this bottom placement showed a higher click-through rate than sidebar ads in testing, but I’m a little bit wary of that factoid as well. Google’s speculation is that this ad placement “fits better into the user’s flow as they scan the page from top to bottom.” Maybe it’s just because users weren’t familiar enough with the beta to distinguish these paid results from Google’s organic results. Research has shown that SEO generates a higher click-through rate than PPC, so maybe these new placements are stealing the inherent trustworthiness of an organic search result. Of course, that’s a pretty big assumption that all SEO results are inherently trustworthy…
So should you try to utilize these new placements? Well, you don’t really have a choice – Google’s adding them to the auction mix anyway. You probably shouldn’t actively target them, though. I assume that it’s better than being off the first page, but probably not by much. I guess we’ll just have do as we’ve always done, and check our reports to see if our ad placements are working.