In an ongoing effort to merge their mobile and desktop experience, Google has eliminated ads in the right sidebar.
Google has been testing 4 ads above the organic results for certain searches over the last several years. Now more searches, particularly those with high commercial value, are likely to serve 4 ads.
There will be an immediate and obvious impact on paid search because the same number of advertisers are now bidding on fewer positions. This will push some online marketers out of the picture, while increasing cost for those who remain.
But what does the new layout mean for organic search?
If you rely on short tail keywords for a large portion of your traffic, get ready for a beating of epic proportions.
Many searches that previously displayed up to 3 ads will now display 4. While that may not seem like much, it’s a 33% increase! That one extra paid ad, for many searches, may mean that most (and sometimes all) organic results are pushed below the fold on most desktops and all mobile devices.
A report released by Compete.com suggests that the first organic position in Google receives 53% of clicks, followed by 15% for position 2 and 9% for position 3. As these organic listings are displaced by one or more additional paid ads, you can expect these numbers to shift dramatically, and not in your favor. (Jesse Teske wrote a great post on the breakdowns at various screen resolutions.)
This means that if you haven’t already, you need to adjust your tactics, placing a higher emphasis on longer tail keywords (well, topics, really) that are less likely to be impacted.
Forget about the big win and focus on gobbling up lots of low-hanging fruit.
You can accomplish this by producing significantly more content in a conversational tone, rather than taking a purely technical SEO approach.
The “more content” part is actually one of the largest factor in success anyway. NPR studied some of the most famous geniuses, including play writers, inventors, authors, etc., and found that while they did produce some amazing work that they later became known for, most of their work was quite average.
The key difference was that they were far more prolific than most people, and that usually leads to at least a few home runs.
As Google continues to erode the exposure for organic search, it also becomes more important to diversify your traffic sources. Some options include PPC, social media, email marketing, display advertising, native advertising, and podcasting.