How B2B Advertisers Can Deal With Google’s Sidebar Changes

A little more than one month after Google announced it would no longer be serving paid ads on the rightpay-per-click sidebar in desktop results, advertisers and marketers alike are still adapting to the changes.  Earlier in the month, my colleague Michael Pickowicz gave us a great primer in the many different implications that would have on the search space, and if you haven’t or if you are unfamiliar with the changes I suggest you start there.

Here I’d like to take the next step and discuss tactics that marketers can use to adjust to the changes in the ad space and continue to drive results in paid media.

Emphasize Bidding for Positions 1 Through 4

Even if you follow best practices, craft relevant and keyword dense ads, and use calls to action and other tricks to differentiate them from competitor ads – it’s important to note that ads that average position 5 and higher are now much less likely to be viewed by the average searcher.  Now we shouldn’t assume that ads below the fold won’t get any traffic, but we need to accept the fact that they will probably be less effective in generating clicks than they were in the past.  Ads in position 3 and 4 will gain more visibility and gain more clicks than they have in the past – while the top 2 positions will be mostly unchanged.

There are a couple of things we can do in our bidding strategy in the wake of these changes.

  • Use the Google AdWords bid simulator on existing and new campaigns to get a better grasp of what type of budget is required to maintain one of the top ad positions.
  • The bid for position AdWords script can help ensure that your ads are staying at the top of the SERPs.
  • The change limits the number of extensions that can be shown at a time – so prioritize those that have the most impact.

For instances where search volume, lead volume, or ROI does not justify increased or modifying bids to remain in the top 4 positions there are still tactics to be considered.

  • Work on improving keyword quality to reduce potential CPCs.  This includes on page changes to improve relevance and relation to your keywords, as well as layering in additional best practices in AdWords – new creative, and restructured campaigns.
  • Find long-tail or related keywords with lower volume but still relevant to your potential customer.
  • Identify customers at different points of the funnel by targeting them with keywords related to content, or other nurture base conversion actions.

Get The Most Out of Google Shopping

With the absence of text ads on the sidebar, Google is doing it’s best to fill the space with results from Google Shopping.  (Or the Knowledge Graph but it’s rare that these two would be competing with each other.)  That makes this a great time to tune up your shopping feed for eCommerce advertisers.

  • First and foremost, remember that Google shopping content has to meet all of Google’s editorial guidelines.holiday-shopping-stat
  • Include all applicable attributes.
  • Optimize your feed content – attributes need to be included and need to match relevant search queries.
  • Set campaign priority to have the most control over your ad delivery.

Your bidding strategy impacts how often and how prominent your feed results show, however it’s not the only criteria on ranking.  The shopping algorithm will match data from your feed directly with user search queries – so the richness and the accuracy of your data will also be extremely important in securing visibility for your products.

  • Consider automating the process with a third party tool.
  • Remember that Google isn’t the only option – and there are many other platforms that utilize feed data to display products.
  • Shopping is rapidly gaining traction on mobile devices too – so it’s important to make sure that your site and cart is mobile friendly.

Focus on Mobile

In a previous post I wrote about the rising importance of mobile advertising in the B2B space.  Last year, Google reported that more searches were input on mobile devices than on Desktop devices in the US, Japan, and 8 other countries.  It’s only a matter of time until the vast majority of all searches come from mobile devices.Call-Extension-v3

It’s important to keep in mind that mobile search has its own nuances.

  • Click to call is the most important and successful extension for mobile users – but you should also utilize other mobile specific ad extensions whenever applicable.
  • You can set a bid adjustment for mobile devices up to 300% of your specified CPC.
  • Long tail searches are usually trumped by autocomplete.
  • Mobile specific landing pages and conversion actions are important too – not every user wants to call right away.

In Closing

The search space is, and will always continue to change.  The way people search is changing, the devices and platforms they frequent is always changing.  Even AdWords is changing.  As marketers it’s important that we stay on top of the changes and trends, and be able to continually develop new approaches and techniques that will allow advertisers to be successful despite how large or small any change may be.  It’s only been a month since Google changed the way desktops handle search and we’re continuing to adapt and come up techniques to make sure our clients are and will continue to be successful.

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