30 Second Summary:
- Google is always testing new positions on the SERP components page
- Simply put, being #1 in organic or paid ads does not guarantee that your paid ads listing will be viewable without scrolling
- The #1 organic position reported by Google Search Console is not the actual #1 position on the page
- Many anomalies and assumptions affect your paid and organic clicks – is there a smart way to counteract this problem?
- Leading performance marketing consultant and expert, Prasanna Dhungel, unravels four key insights for marketers to maximize performance marketing initiatives in 2023
Over the past two decades, Google’s search engine results page (SERP) has evolved a lot. The Google SERP, which used to only have organic listings, now also features dynamic paid ads and other organic SERP components.
Currently, Google SERP has many organic features like –
- People also ask (PAA),
- Popular products,
- highlighted cutouts,
- google map,
- image packs,
- Tweets and many more that I think we’re just scratching the surface of
Paid features currently seen on Google SERP are –
- shopping ads,
- text ads and
- Local search ads from MAP
These are some paid features that advertisers should not ignore if they want to develop better advertising and content strategies for maximum search engine marketing ROI.
Google varies SERP composition by keyword, geography, time of day, and device. Google is testing new positions on the SERP components page. What does all this mean, you might ask? Simply put, being #1 in organic or paid ads does not guarantee that your listing will be viewable without scrolling. This means that a #1 organic position reported by Google Search Console is not the actual #1 position on the page. So you have a much lower CTR than expected, and all of this affects your paid and organic clicks.
Given this dynamic nature of SERPs, search engine marketers need to understand the SERP landscape and their brand’s true rank on Google versus the competition. This view allows search engine marketers to employ the right paid and SEO tactics to maximize visibility and clicks.
Based on my experience and understanding of the dynamic SERP, here are four key insights marketers should focus on to maximize their performance marketing initiatives.
1. Analyze the composition of SERP for your keywords
Marketers need to understand SERP features that are visible for their keywords. The chart below shows that SERP features like PAA and popular products occupy a significant spot along with the organic keywords “apparel” and “accessories”. Search marketers who don’t target these components will miss out on attracting customers at various stages of their buying journey who click People Also Ask.
2. Monitor emerging and shrinking SERP features
Marketers need to understand new SERP features that have emerged and are becoming increasingly popular for their keyword traffic. This helps in developing a long-term advertising and content plan that targets popular SERP features.
In the last quarter, we identified the SERP features “Map Local Search Ads” and “App Install” (on mobile) appearing in the keywords “Apparel” and “Accessories”. We’ve seen an increase in the popularity of PAA and popular products across many keyword groups.
3. Keep track of SERP features that are above the fold
It is crucial to understand the SERP features that are visible above the fold. These insights will help marketers understand the dynamics of rising and falling SERP click-through rates. You may be wondering why the clicks are declining even though your average position as reported in Google Reports is improving. Such questions can be answered with a true ad position in SERP.
As shown in the graphic below, the usual organic component in this keyword landscape has less above the fold coverage compared to SERP features like PAA and Popular Products.
Insights like these help marketers understand the quickest way to get above the fold on the first page. Marketers can create a holistic search strategy to properly allocate their search engine marketing budget across organic and paid SERP features.
4. Monitor competitors through SERP features
Google is an extremely competitive channel. You have many domains appearing on Google SERP, from aggregators to publishers to actual competitors of your business model. In order to develop the right marketing tactics, it is imperative to understand the top domains by SERP features, their competitive tactics, and how the SERP landscape is changing.
From link building planning to attracting secondary traffic to improving authority score and developing advertising and content strategies, SERP-driven insights like these will help you maximize search advertising performance.
In addition, you can timely optimize your advertising campaigns by monitoring the tactics of your key emerging competitors across all SERP formats. As shown in the chart below, Amazon greatly improved its share of voice for Google Shopping ads from May to July 2022.
When brands like these advertise heavily in a category, marketers need to promote products in categories that Amazon isn’t aggressively pushing and come back when Amazon promotions wear off.
Google is sharing less and less data. Google ad data doesn’t show advertisers what low impressions may be showing and increasing on your CPCs. Google Search Console data does not show true rank and shared organic rank is not representative of actual position on page.
In 2023, it is imperative for search marketers to leverage SERP-driven insights to gain an edge in their performance marketing campaigns.
Prasanna Dhungel is co-founder and director of GrowByData, which runs performance marketing for leading brands like Crocs and top agencies like Merkle. GrowByData provides search, marketplace and product management marketing intelligence to drive new revenue, increase marketing performance and manage brand compliance.
Prasanna also advises executives, boards and investors on data strategy, growth and product. He has advised leading companies such as Melinda & Bill Gates Foundation, Athena Health and Apellis Pharma.
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