Last month Google shocked advertisers when it announced that it would no longer show ads along the right hand side of the search engine results pages (SERPs).
Ad spots 5-9 that used to show on the right rail will now show at the bottom of the SERPs, underneath the final organic results.
For many small businesses who rely on the Adwords Pay-Per-Click program for website traffic this was a hammer blow.
At the same time Google also announced that they will add a fourth ad at the top of the page, above the organic results.
This is a game changer by Google as it increased substantially the cost per click for many businesses.
If you are a national brand, used to paying for the top position, Google’s change is negligible as they can afford the increased cost per click.
But for the following types of small and locally-oriented businesses, this move by Google potentially changes their whole online marketing approach.
Small Businesses Who Advertise Locally
For small or locally-oriented businesses who use Adwords to drive leads, generate phone calls or achieve any of a dozen common marketing goals this will could have a profound, and even devastating, effect on their business.
Increased costs per click, with no meaningful increase in traffic will render many companies PPC campaigns unprofitable.
The auto space is one of the most competitive markets online with dozens of franchises competing in the same market.
Instead of 9 places to advertise on the SERPs there will are now only 4 spots at the top of the page, and some of those will be taken up by the national brands.
How will local dealerships now compete for active, in-market car-buying prospects?
Local Insurance Companies
Similar to the auto market, insurance is another market where dozens of agencies compete in the same market.
The big national insurance brands like Geico, Nationwide, State Farm and Liberty are going to dominate the paid listings.
What will local agents and agencies do now to generate leads in the life, health and auto markets?
Assisted Living and Elder Care
Even though a lot of assisted living and elder care companies are national chains, this is still an inherently local business.
These national brands will crowd out smaller local operators who won’t have the budget to compete.
What Are Your Options?
With only four meaningful positions at the top of the page, small and local businesses have a big decision to make.
Do they effectively drop out of the paid search engine listings? Or do they load up and compete for one of the top four positions even at costs that are sure to increase?
For companies that decide that they cannot compete with the national brands for PPC , one area they can compete is in local search.
Local search focus on Google’s organic rankings to reach their target audience. Google’s local search algorithm is still heavily weighted towards local businesses and gives you a chance to compete for that potential customer with the national brands.
Another option is Facebook which allows you to target people in your geographic area, much like Adwords does. The difference is that, at the moment, Facebook campaigns can be considerable cheaper than Adwords ones?
How has Google’s ad change impacted you? Do you need help setting up a Facebook campaign or getting your company set up for local search?
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