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In February 2012, Google first announced plans for enhanced site links on desktop search ads.
The idea was to give existing site links a shot of steroids and triple their overall size. Google planned to combine multiple site links and closely related search ads into a larger ad format. Google ran a test period and analyzed the performance of the links, and determined that the new enhanced site links work better than the original site links. They decided to roll out the new feature globally.
Up until this point, Google showed most of the ads that used site links this way:
From now on, Google will show most of the ads that choose to use site links this way:
WOW! This has to be your first reaction! Now, tell me that my steroids metaphor wasn’t a good one. After all, the ads did triple in their size…
The main technical difference between the original site links and the new ones will be in the set-up process. It will be a little bit more demanding – mainly in that accounts will need to have multiple active ads with the same landing page URLs as site links.
How does this new change in direction impact organic search function?
The site links’ “sponsored ad” space has expanded considerably. This pushes organic listings towards the bottom of the page. Google has done it again!
The introduction of enhanced site links will expand central “sponsored ad” space anywhere from 4 up to 12 additional lines! This means that in cases when Google shows one of the three ads with enhanced site links, all organic listings will be placed below the fold. In cases where Google displays all three ads with enhanced site links, organic listings will be found at the bottom of the page. This ultimately means that Google’s focus totally switched to paid listings.
So, what does this mean for businesses that are interested in search marketing?
It means that Pay Per Click (PPC) must be part of businesses’ search marketing strategies if they are going to have substantial impact in this advertising medium. It also means that PPC has become more important and critical for success than it was ever before, especially for clients that require direct response.
We live in a fast-paced world. We expect to have the information we need at our fingertips all the time, and when we search for that information on Google, we will be served with PPC ads. If businesses want to have an impact through Google, they better be there when potential clients search for their product or services.
Another important point here is that Google has made a tremendous progress in the last few years in making ads more relevant. They have also been very successful in filtering out spammy advertisers and making everyone play by the rules.
Google is constantly expanding the Sponsored Ad area and making ads more relevant, ensuring that the information users want is one click away. By doing this, they are satisfying the needs of their users and the needs of their shareholders.
With each new strategic move, Google is telling us, “Welcome to the PPC world.”