Is Google Telling us PPC Ads are Most Valuable in Top Positions?

Google has been on what seems like an ultra-aggressive path to supplement search results with new features. As Wil has recently mentioned, just in the last month there have been multiple changes to the SERPS.

As I work on the PPC side, I look at these changes from a solely a PPC point view:
How might this impact our PPC results?

The reality is, it seems like with all of these changes Google is slyly (or maybe not so slyly) indicating the importance of top positions in PPC.

Why? Let’s take a look.

Place Search

According to Google, “Place Search results will begin appearing automatically on Google when we predict you’re looking for local information.”

Let’s take a look at some results.

When searching on ‘exterminator’ Google predicts I am looking for local information, as such I’m served the Local map:
local map 1

That is all well and fine, however, where are the PPC ads??

Not only are they pushed down on the right side, but as you scroll down the page, the Local map comes with you, blocking PPC ads along the way:
local map 2

Great for Local Results, but maybe not so great for PPC….

Next up – Instant Previews
According to Google, “A visual comparison of search results helps you pick which result is right for you.” Sounds great right?

Let’s check out an example, again using a search for ‘exterminator’:
preview 1

Great – I can check out the sites quickly. But again – where are my PPC ads?

The site preview completely blocks the PPC ads on the right side.

For this example using the query ‘exterminator,’ when having a term Google deems Local, and using Instant Preview – guess which ads are the only ads visible??

Positions 1-3.

I don’t know about everyone else in the PPC World, but it seems to me Google is screaming – YOU NEED TO BE IN POSITION 1-3.

These changes, combined with the recent re-naming of ‘Sponsored links’ to ‘Ads’ certainly throws some fluctuations into the PPC equation.

If these new changes stick (and this is a small look at recent changes) and I had to make a guess-I would think we may see some additional competition for top PPC spots. Any why not – to drive conversions we need to have our ads visible… It will certainly be an interesting next few weeks and months as we aggregate data and see how these changes have impacted PPC performance!