by Luke



Is Google Testing out New SERP Layouts on Desktop?

Here at ConversionWorks, we like to keep one eye open for updates and changes in the Biddable landscape. On Wednesday 23rd May we noticed something that you might want to keep an eye out for. Given its potential impact on your campaign performance, being a biddable whiz like us, you’ll want to know.

A Brief History

As we all know, Google isn’t afraid of mixing things up when it comes to design, especially with the ad format visible on its SERP (Search Engine Results Page). Over recent years the ad experience has changed somewhat giving a more natural and blended appearance similar to that of the organic search results that sit just below (see the design history here).

Now it appears Google may be discretely testing changes once again. As there isn’t any news at the moment it appears to be a small scale test, but something definitely worth noting if you, yourself have come across something similar.

Spot the Difference

The two sets of images below look similar but try to spot the difference.

Now look closely at the individual ads.

In the first set of screenshots, we appear to have a changed layout of ad space at the top of the page. The big difference here lies with the Shopping ads moving to the right-hand side once again, to sit above structured data. One of the most important changes to acknowledge in this instance is due to this shift it appears to allow a second ad place at the top of the page. This could be great for some businesses, Business A, (an increased level of performance due to appearing above the fold) & disaster for others, Business B, (a competitor taking away potential clicks). However, it must be noted that this was not seen consistently when viewing the search results with the new layout.

The ad extensions, seen in the second set of screenshots, are where we see a big change. Instead of appearing on a separate line, they instead blend into the description. Potentially trading off ad real estate space but improving the likeness to that of an organic listing.

Another example of is visible below in the screenshot below. This showcases non-retail text ads on the SERP.

Below is yet a third variation of the changes. Both search ads showcase the changed ad format. However, the Shopping ads in the first image are to the right with more product listings, as well as more competitors reaching the top of the page.

What Does This Mean?

I suppose we’ll all have a few questions, but the main statement of intent is obvious. Google likes to improve relevance, choice and give a better overall experience for users. However, the top line is something that they, like every other business, are looking to improve. This change is likely to be an initial test, with more to come if they see promising results in performance.

It appears the main areas affected could be Shopping and any Search campaigns with normally little competition on the first page (branded campaigns). Depending on who you are, Business A or Business B, this could mean you’ll see changes in your normal metrics temporarily as tests run. Something to note if you’re currently seeing a change in overall performance, but you’re not sure as to why.

We’d love to get your thoughts on the matter – let us know if you’ve spotted something similar!


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