Earlier this week Google made some big changes to their AdWord layout that may affect Small to Midsize businesses (SMBs) in a big way. Google has removed all paid ads on the right hand rail and increased the paid ads at the top and bottom of search results to four respectively.
There are two significant potential impacts on both advertisers and businesses competing organically.
- By eliminating the right rail of advertising, the pool of first-page search advertising has decreased to a number of 8. This means that businesses are competing more to be at the top of search results. National brands already dominate top search results but there is a very real possibility that your Cost Per Click (CPC) will increase as well. This affects the SMB’s more as they tend to have limited budgets to compete with big brands and the right rail of ads were a nice overflow alternative.
- By increasing the number of ads at the top and bottom of the SERPs (search engine results page), the amount of organic searches decreases on the first page. Also, depending on the size of your screen, most organic search results are now below the fold. This means that businesses have to compete even more for that initial impact prime real estate.
So what do you do as a SMB to be found online and stay competitive with a relatively limited budget? The first is be creative and make sure your advertising initiatives aren’t in one location.
Understanding that national brands will take top spots for broad keywords, SMB’s should focus on more local key terms. For example, instead of buying F-150, you might want to consider F-150 +(city) or +(zip code). Limit how much you will pay for broader key terms so you don’t blow through your daily budget too fast and utilize some of the more advanced features of Adwords like Customer Match and Retargeting. These will isolate your customers better and deliver to them in a more effective way.
Diversify your SEO. SEO is not as simple as your website ranking for keywords. It is more complex and yet simple at the same time. The goal of any SEO campaign should be making sure your customers can find you when they are looking for you. With that in mind, make sure your maps are set up properly and you have your local directories claimed and filled out. This will help break through the ad clutter when your customer is looking for you and reveiws on your business. Also, make sure you are using social media effectively. If done well, your posts in social media should rank in search results.
A combination of AdWord advertising, maps, local directories, social media, and a well designed website will still ensure that your business will be found when your customers are searching for you. And don’t forget, the rules online will continue to change so be ready to adapt and evolve.