PMG Digital Made for Humans

Changes in the Google Search Space Entering 2014

3 MINUTE READ | December 20, 2013

Changes in the Google Search Space Entering 2014

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PMG is a global independent digital company that seeks to inspire people and brands that anything is possible. Driven by shared success, PMG uses business strategy and transformation, creative, media, and insights, along with our proprietary marketing intelligence platform Alli, to deliver Digital Made for Humans™. With offices in New York, London, Dallas/Fort Worth, Austin, Atlanta, and Cleveland, our team is made up of over 900+ employees globally, and our work for brands like Apple, Nike, Best Western Hotels & Resorts, Gap Inc., Kohler, Momentive, Sephora, and Shake Shack has received top industry recognitions including Cannes Lions and Adweek Media Plan of the Year.

Google used to be a pretty simple concept for both searchers and marketers. Google’s soul purpose as a search engine was showing the most relevant results for each person’s search. Period. To do this, Google crawled websites for relevant content, links, and titles to determine and show a number of organic results on the first page with more results to follow. With those three main things optimized, brands used to have a decent likelihood of popping up above the fold on the 1st results page and the searcher would have a high likelihood of finding what they were looking for.

As all digital marketers know, being on the first page, specifically in the first three listings, is like winning a Golden Ticket. Seriously, who clicks beyond the 1st or 2nd now-a-days? According to the most recent reports, 92% of all Google traffic stays on the first page and 4.8% continue on to the next page. To capitalize on the click trend, marketers added Paid Search into their strategies to increase their real-estate.


As Paid Search is a paid product, Google made room for the results by kicking out a few organic listings from the mix on the first page, making PPC even more essential for brands to utilize. As Google started including sitelink extensions, location listings, pictures, and other additions to the first results page, digital strategies became less dependent on basic organic-side tactics but more of an accumulation of additions to paid product portfolios. Not only does this shift eat into the overall investment of digital programs and increase the competition for Google real estate, but it also augments the true result nature for searchers from an unbiased, content driven ecosystem to one bolstered by paid programs.

Once again, Google is further changing the dynamic with Product Listing Ads. Once a free program, PLAs are becoming one of the most important campaigns in a retailer’s search strategy. These ads are not only adding to a brand’s presence and driving conversions, but they are now showing above PPC ads in various instances. The reporting for PLAs in regular campaigns is not as extensive as that of PPC keywords and, without seeing an average position or rank type metric on the Google page in-comparison to other bidders in the space, marketers cannot truly see where and by how much they need to scale bids to achieve optimal results.

The PLA reporting conundrum is genius on the Google end as bids and CPCs continue to climb and spend in the channel increases, however, it makes optimization on the advertiser’s end a trial-and-error game. If you are running PLAs already and have switched your PLA campaign into the new Enhanced PLA campaigns, some Impression Share reporting is available and the reporting may eventually incorporate average position, however, PLAs in general will still be a high CPC program and one to watch moving forward.

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Google used to be a search engine but now, as the analogy goes, Google is to a search engine as Amazon is to book store. Google is evolving into an engine that solves searcher’s questions with increasingly paid programs over natural results. If brands are not already incorporating paid programs into their mix, they are missing out on traffic and need to start as soon as possible to keep up with the curve. For those who are already involved in the space, the ramp up of PLAs, combined with interchanging paid ad formats on the top results page will, yet again, substantially change digital strategy for moving into 2014.

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