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Google are Testing a New SERP Layout in the USA – What Could It Mean For SEO?

If you are a business who has been relying solely on SEO to ensure you get a good proportion of the potential traffic relating to relevant keywords, then you are probably someone who likes to know about any changes to Google’s search results that might change the effectiveness of your strategy.

Experimentation

choosing-a-local-ppc-agencyGoogle regularly experiment with different layouts for their search results, and usually do this by implementing the change for certain people or regions and then analysing how these new layouts perform. Sometimes, these changes end up being rolled out across the board, like the infamous changes to Google’s ‘local pack’ local search results which had many local businesses rethinking their Google strategies in 2015.

At the moment, and currently only in the USA, we can observe Google test 4 AdWords ads in top positions on SERPs. Here, online advertising specialists Converted take a look at what this could mean if implemented permanently to all users:

Above or Below the Fold

Google has tried out different positions for the AdWords results on users’ search results pages, with them sometimes appearing above the organic search results, and sometimes in their own column to the right. The latest experiment sees four, rather than the traditional three, AdWords results listed at the top of the main search results listings.

This pushes the first organic search results – that is, the ones obtained via SEO rather than AdWords auctions, further down the page, however on a standard Google search results page the first ones still appear ‘above the fold’, that is, you don’t have to scroll to see them when looking at the page on most screens.

However, when a search also prompts Google to show one of its own proprietary tools on the screen as well as search results, for instance if it shows you one of its price comparison calculators, or if the Google Shopping results which show thumbnails of products appear, the organic search results start even further down, in some cases with only one or even none of the top ranking results based on SEO appearing above the fold.

What Will This Mean For Business Who Just Use SEO?

If you currently only use SEO, it is hard to say what a mass roll out of this new layout with four AdWords results will mean, because there is no data back from the tests that can tell us whether the organic search results do receive less traffic when displayed on this version of the SERP. However, it is known from other experiments that usually, results that appear below the fold do see less traffic than those above it, so it could be expected that the AdWords results will get a bigger slice of the pie than the SEO results.

It will be interesting to see what happens with this and whether Google do decide they like this display better than the one most people around the world currently get, however it could mean businesses will need to diversify their strategies to include more than just SEO in the next year.

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If you are a business who has been relying solely on SEO to ensure you get a good proportion of the potential traffic relating to relevant keywords, then you are probably someone who likes to know about any changes to Google's search results that might change the effectiveness of...