Why are Google SERP filled with ads?
Anyone else feeling startled — and sometimes downright uneasy — by what’s been happening lately when we enter search results on Google?
This is because there are two types of searches. if you just put a product in then google is assuming you are intending to go shopping. If you put “pictures of x” instead of just “x” then you’ll get different results. Google is actually trying to help you because most people that searched that term were shopping.
This was a minor annoyance in 2017-2021, but it’s a lot worse now . In categories such as lodging, Google has become practically unusable, because the actual hotels’ websites are buried under long lists of middlemen outfits that want to do everything except get me a reliable, easy-to-cancel booking.
It gets worse. A few weeks ago, I was looking for advice on how to get a balky Pixel phone (made by Google!) to perform better. Just about all of the first 20+ results were from SEO spammers! Google’s own advice was buried farther down.
This weekend, I switched the default search engine on my personal laptop to DuckDuckGo, and the one on my work computer to Bing. Not sure if that’s a step forward, backward or sideways, but I’m ready to experiment.
News Breaks, Riots Ensue
What does this mean?
I’ve noticed more and more over the past few years that Google has been replacing transactional/commercial intent pages on page 1 of its search results with informational content. It seems to me that they’ve been moving in this direction of making organic serps exclusively for information, so that paid listings are the only way to rank for non-brand transactional key phrases.
Mixing paid listings in the organic results is just another step in this direction. I think this trend is set to continue.
What can we do?
One solution is to identify semi transactional informational queries I.e information queries people ask Google only right before they need to buy something. Use this content to lead people directly to your transactional pages.
Another solution is to create hybrid pages that are both transactional and commercial in nature, so that Google treats them as informational pages, and ranks them in organic for commercial intent key phrases.
As the news broke late Friday night, murmurs of discontent rippled through the SEO community. Online forums buzzed with activity as professionals expressed their frustration and sought support. Social media platforms saw a surge of posts with the hashtag #SEOExodus, as some professionals contemplated changing careers.
The industry, long accustomed to boosting online presence through valuable content and SEO best practices, was left reeling by the sudden news. This unexpected shift sent shockwaves through the sector, demanding a reevaluation of established strategies and prompting a quest for new avenues to connect with online audiences.
Many people who don’t know better blindly trust that the first result is the best and will click on it, bringing them to who-knows-where. Sometimes these ads are even scams or viruses.
15 Things That Destroy Google Ads Results
- Annoying Google Reps with 0 experience
- Automatically Applied Recommendations
- Branded search terms in NB campaigns
- Optimized targeting on remarketing
- Broad match without Smart Bidding
- No product segmentation in pMax
- Not tracking the right conversions
- Only targeting all pages with DSA
- GA4 primary conversion tracking
- Not tracking offline conversions
- Merchant Center suspensions
- Not using negative keywords
- Irrelevant micro conversions
- A poor Google Ads manager
- Unoptimized product feeds
Industry Response: SEOs Talk Back
Ahrefs Product Advisor, Patrick Stox, first spotted the leap. He noticed ads popping up where they haven’t traditionally been – at the third and fifth organic position slots!
Now, let’s put our crystal ball on: If Google scales up this test, we could see advertisers enjoying more clicks while SEO specialists grapple with yet another hurdle in the fight for organic search real estate.
But the question to ponder here is – will the user experience take a hit? Could we see complaints about the quality of Google’s search results soaring?
Google’s Ads Liaison, Ginny Marvin, chose her words carefully, refusing to confirm or deny these turn of events.
Local search agency owner, Jim Kurzweil, remarked on the evolving industry with a bleak tone: “Researching alternative career paths just got a whole lot harder.”
Adding to the despair, former Google webspam team leader Matt Cutts emerged from retirement to pronounce the final verdict: “SEO is deceased. There, I said it!”
FedEx Kinkos locations have experienced the ripple effect, facing paper shortages due to a surge in resume printing from displaced SEO professionals.
“Honestly, if one more SEO walks in here with a 2,000-word resume, I’m gonna lose my mind,” exclaimed Allison Gurner, a Kinkos employee in New York. “They keep asking about keyword density in Microsoft Word, and frankly, I haven’t a clue!”
Why Are People Turning to Paid Ads?
Every second, there are billions of searches performed on Google, and the majority of search results pages include Google ads.
- Immediate Results: One of the main reasons businesses turn to Google Ads is the potential for immediate results. Organic SEO strategies can take months or even years to take full effect, whereas Google Ads can start driving traffic immediately.
- Targeted Traffic: Clients want their ads to reach the right people – those most likely to be interested in their products or services. Google Ads allows for precise targeting, which can deliver more qualified leads.
- Cost-effectiveness: Clients want to see a solid return on their ad spend. They want their Google Ads to deliver results (like leads or sales) without breaking the bank.
- Increased Sales and Revenue: Ultimately, most clients are using Google Ads as a tool to increase sales and revenue. They want to see their investment translating into tangible results, which in this case, means an increase in sales.
- Sales and Lead Generation: Ultimately, clients want their Google Ads to generate sales and leads. Effective Google Ads campaigns not only create awareness and drive traffic but also capture user interest and convert this interest into actionable leads and sales.
Transitioning Industries: Finding A Way Back To Profitability
A lot of people don’t know about Search Engine Optimization and really need to be informed about it. It’s one of those quiet sneaky tricks that no one outside of the industry really knows about.
The reason you see those sites before any useful stuff comes up is because those companies exploit Google’s system of “what’s most viewed shows up first” by bombarding their sites with bot visits and using bots to spam keywords related to their site name/domain across social media and other sites. This makes the search engine think “wow, these guys must be really popular and their answers are really good!“
The reason your search results get worse and worse is because SEO is getting more and more used by terrible sites who have money to burn on bot hours to do it.
Regardless of how the Google Search Results will look, then ads will always be a part of it.
SEO on the other hand might go into a tailspin if half of what Google just announced is brought to life. Not that SEO will die.
But it will have another meaning.
Tom Bedford, another former SEO veteran, quickly decided to transfer to a new form of online marketing – influencer marketing.
Bedford started an Instagram account and has resorted to promoting weight loss tea just to make a few bucks, despite self-identifying as a “completely average looking, kinda fat” man.
Disheartened, Bedford exclaimed, ‘These physiques can’t be genuine! How can I possibly compete in this industry? I’m utterly desperate!
Is There A Way Out? Some Say Yes.
Within just a few hours of the update, resourceful webmasters have begun to share their solutions to the problematic layout online.
One such product, “The Google Gorilla Layout Bazooka Sniper Volcano,” was released on Warrior Forum a mere 2.5 hours after the news broke.
This 13-page PDF promises to reveal the “secret sauce to beating the algorithm!” and is currently available for just $7. As a bonus, it also includes the “Adwords Avalanche Alchemy Academy 2.0.”
The product promoter claims to have only a “limited number of copies of the PDF” remaining, urging anyone interested in “dominating their niche” and “crushing the competition” to act fast.
Meanwhile, several SEO companies are now offering “Top of Page 2 Rankings” as a solution to their clients, with some expressing resignation, like Ken Hardy, PR manager for Regency SEO Agency, who remarked, “Well, That’s as good as it gets for us now.”
Google Alternative: Bing
Bing has a long way to go to catch up to Google. The problem is that Google search is a moving target and keeps improving.
Google for example was already well ahead of Bing with getting 50% of queries ending without the user needing to click in 2019. The superior Google AI is what enabled it.
But then in 2020 Google was able to improve to 66% of all queries now that do not need a single click. It does mean less ads for Google. But it is such a better UX.
It is why Bing lost about 10% share last year while Google continues to increase their user share.
BTW, it is highly unlikely Bing will be able to close the gap. I would instead expect it to continue to increase. The problem for Microsoft is they just have way too little use of Bing to improve.
Search in 2023 is a machine learned application. So you need the users to drive the algorithm. Bing just has way too little use to keep improving at the rate Google is able to improve.
Microsoft needs to somehow increase Bing subscribers but right now it is going in the opposite direction. Maybe pay people to use Bing?
Google is making it harder and harder for advertisers to target through a number of methods that really go against the “don’t be evil” tagline they once wore proudly. It’s all in the name of more clicks/$$$.
The only way Google has dominated so long is that they truly did provide the best search results. This quest for clicks is shortsighted and goes against their brand.
The Future Of SEO
The recent shift has sparked ripples of uncertainty across the SEO landscape. While the future remains veiled, many fear this may herald a new dawn for PPC specialists.
However, amidst the trepidation, a glimmer of hope emerges for those in the paid advertising realm. The evolving landscape might just pave the way for exciting opportunities and renewed focus on their craft.
Though the jury is still out on the ultimate impact, one thing is certain: the digital marketing landscape is in for a transformative ride. It’s time to buckle up and embrace the change, for who knows what exciting possibilities lie ahead?