Google recently released a set of changes to their search engine result page (also known by its acronym “SERP.”) They removed the sidebar text ad listings, and increased the number of top text ads above the organic listings to a maximum of four ads. (The previous maximum number was two.)
Google made this decision apparently because the ads on the right were underutilized, as most people automatically scanned the main results. The increase in the number of top ads gives more ability for the paid ads to be visible and clicked upon.
This certainly has a big impact on digital marketing agencies working to help companies achieve organic results, which now show further down on the list. Many people, such as myself, are subconsciously trained to automatically scan past the top paid listings to the lower natural listings. With a longer listing of ads, it can impact this subconscious behavior and cause more of the paid ads to be clicked.
The reality is that any marketing agency has to be in tune to these subtle changes. Google introduces changes on their own and sometimes rocks the industry. We saw that with Mobilegeddon this past April, and we saw it with their Penguin and Panda algorithm changes prior to that.
The bottom line is that the same old SEO methods are still just as important as before. Quality content is still king, relevant inbound links are important, and properly formatted tags and keywords are still necessary. It’s just that our organic search listings will start a bit lower down, and it may take some time for us to adjust to the new patterns introduced by Google. A larger focus may now be placed on PPC ads over organic SEO by the marketing agencies. This is precisely what Google wants so they can increase their revenue stream.