Welcome to Digital Marketing Roundup. We’ll be covering news highlights from the last 30 days that will affect your online marketing & website strategies. It’s been quite the busy month, so let’s jump right in!
1. Ad Placement on Google’s Search Engine Result Pages has Changed
Have you notice a change in the way your Google search result pages look yet? Starting on February 19th, Google began rolling out an update to it’s paid search layout on search result pages. They have removed text ads from the right hand gutter. Instead, 1-4 ads (compared to up to 3 prior) will now show above the organic listings. The rest of the ads will be forced to the bottom of the search result page. This is something that Google has actually been testing out and experimenting with since 2010.
Does this mean the end of ads in the right sidebar? Not entirely. Google’s Product Listing Ads (PLAs) and ads within the Knowledge Graph panel will still display in the right-hand column for appropriate searches.
How will this affect the visibility of organic ads? I’ll let you be the final judge, but organic ads will be pushed farther down the page with this new layout. On some searches, the number of ads plus the Knowledge Graph panel are actually pushing all organic listings below the fold -see the example below. This new update only stresses the importance of ranking highly in search results.
How will this affect cost-per-click for paid ads? This is yet to be determined as the change is still fresh. One likely scenario is that CPC’s will rise. The supply of above-the-fold ads is decreasing, but the demand has not changed. Again, this is just a possible outcome at this point in time. Stay tuned and continue to watch as the data unfolds.
2. AMP Listings Live in Mobile Search Results
On February 23d, AMP listings officially started showing up on Google mobile search result pages. The AMP Project was announced last October. AMP stands for Accelerated Mobile pages and is describe as,
“…a new open source initiative called Accelerated Mobile Pages, which aims to dramatically improve the performance of the mobile web. We want webpages with rich content like video, animations and graphics to work alongside smart ads, and to load instantaneously. We also want the same code to work across multiple platforms and devices so that content can appear everywhere in an instant—no matter what type of phone, tablet or mobile device you’re using.” -David Besbris, Vice President Engineering, Search
AMP pages are essentially HTML pages that are stripped down and made to be lightweight. They work quite similar to Facebook Instant Articles, and allow quick transitions for mobile users to easily read & consumer content.
How fast is AMP HTML? Purportedly between 15%-85% faster than a non-AMP page. As of right now, AMP is not an official Google ranking factor, but it still has the potential to get your business to the top of the SERP. Even if you’re not a publisher, it’s still worth checking out the AMP Project and continuously monitoring your competitors on how they may leverage AMP. Just be aware that the AMP HTML specifications are pretty strict, so do some research first before diving in.
3. Pinterest Promoted Pins Open To All SMB’s
Last year Pinterest rolled out Promoted Pins in the Pinterest Ads Manger for businesses on it’s platform. As of March 8th, this capability is now open to all small & medium-sized business in the U.S. The ads manager allows advertisers to target pins based on interest, keyword, & customer database targeting. In addition, the platform now also allows for enhanced conversion tracking, enabling businesses to track & optimize performance against revenue goals. Among other results, Pinterest claims that advertisers who use the Pinterest Ads Manager received an average of 20% more (free) clicks* in the month after the start of a Promoted Pins campaign.
4. Google’s Announcement on Mobile-Friendliness as a Ranking Factor
Last year Google started using mobile-friendliness as a ranking signal for mobile searches. You all remember the “mobilegeddon” hype last spring, right? Well, as of March 16th, Google officially announced that they’ll start rolling out an update to mobile search results in May that will increase the effect of the mobile-friendly ranking factor.
What does this mean for your website? If your site is already mobile friendly, then pat yourself on the back for staying current with website technologies and for seeking to provide the best user experience possible. You guys are safe and don’t need to worry about this roll out.
If your site isn’t mobile-friendly we’d highly recommend looking into getting a newly redesigned, responsive website. A separate mobile site, while not the best overall solution, is another option as well.
Not sure if your site is mobile-friendly? Input your domain URL into Google’s Mobile-Friendly Test to see if it passes or not.
Are you in need of a responsive site that is mobile-friendly? Click to learn more and request a free quote on a newly designed site now.
5. Google Drops Flash Ads for HTML5 Ads
Finally, in case you missed this bit of recent news too, Google announced that it will stop supporting ads in the Flash format. Starting in July 2016, you’ll no longer be able to upload display ads built in Flash. Starting in January 2017, Adwords will stop running ads in the Flash format altogether. If your business still uses Flash ads, we highly recommend starting to work on switching them out as soon as possible. Make use of the HTML5 toolkit in Google tools to create ads in the HTML5 format.
Questions about how any of these updates or changes may affect your business? Please get in touch with us and we’d be happy to provide options and solutions for addressing them that will meet your business’s needs & goals.