During the second half of 2015, Google rolled out a series of changes to the mobile SERP (Search Engine Results Page), causing substantial fluctuations in the world of Paid Search and SEO. While these changes affected brands in various ways, iProspect saw an overall trend: Paid Search is increasing in mobile visibility and engagement, while SEO is decreasing in high volume branded terms. This was primarily caused by three specific experiences being changed in mobile SERP.
Enhanced Sitelinks and 3-4 Paid Search Ads
What has changed: Enhanced sitelinks became larger; these now include drop-down functionality and can display up to four ads within a SERP. Highly competitive branded keywords (i.e. Brand Name or Brand Products) were the most impacted.
Impact: The growing amount of enhanced Paid Search sitelinks is eating into traditionally high-volume brand terms that drive a lot of SEO traffic. Typically, these are primarily “I-Want-To-Know” moments, where an individual is validating a purchasing decision or already has the brand in mind. While it appears to have great efficiency and engagement for Paid Search, the slight increase can sometimes be correlated with huge decreases in SEO CTR as the user is actively looking for a brand experience.
Old SERP New SERP
Impacts Searcher with “I-Want-To-Buy-Intent”
Product Listing Ads (PLAs)
What has changed: PLAs now take up a larger portion of the above-the-fold SERP and include other rich features, like review ratings. They are commonly present for corresponding product queries.
Impact: The larger size of PLA ads is causing a decrease in SEO, while making Paid Search ads more effective. When the brand is allocating budgets appropriately to capitalize on the enhanced look of the new PLA units, they will often see an overall lift in search engagements for these “I want to Buy” search users.
Old SERP New SERP
What has changed: Queries with high local intent and generic brand queries are now being served a Local 3-Pack result that includes a map.
Impact: Searchers looking to find directions are now being presented with this information directly from the Local 3-Pack. The end result is a decrease in SEO traffic to the brand site for the “I Want to Go” intent users looking for the “location because the information is now present directly in the mobile SERP.
Evolve Your Mobile Search Strategy
Google is evolving the SERP, predicting what users want and giving the information directly to them. As mobile search results continue to evolve, it is essential to deeply integrate your SEO and Paid Search strategies. Google will continue to makes changes to capitalize on AI machine learning to define the most valuable experiences for search users and provide brands with new ways to monetize and engage on those moments. Your brand’s search strategy needs to consider each touchpoint for search users. Let us know how we can help your brand navigate and succeed in the new mobile search environment.