Google changes the PPC playing field

Google recently launched an expansion of their Instant Preview function.  In November of last year you were able to see a preview of the websites that showed up in search results page.  There was an icon of a magnifying glass called a “spyglass” next to each result.  Clicking on the icon allowed you to preview the pages in the search results.

Google Instant Preview - IMI

Near the end of April 2011, Google expanded this feature to the paid search ads.  Now you can view the landing pages for the paid search ads, simply by clicking on the icon.  Clicking on the icon doesn’t cost anything, and once clicked you previewed all of the ads, on the results page.  This is great for the user, since they can readily see, visually, which page is more appealing and relevant to their search.  But what does this mean for those of us in the Paid Search Industry?

It means a whole new strategy.

Previously you could write an amazing ad and get an amazing click through rate, regardless of the design of the landing page.  You may have a landing page that converts the traffic from that amazing ad very well, but it may not look as pretty as competing landing pages, from competing ads.  With Instant Preview, you’re not so pretty landing page, may actually lower the CTR of your previously best performing ads.

This is a game changer for PPC.  The previous job of the landing page was simply to convert the traffic that was sent to it.  Now it has the added job of increasing your CTR, and your ads with a great CTR, now have to be even more relevant to its landing page content as well as visual design.

How do we adapt?

This is newly released technology, so user behavior hasn’t shifted towards a popular usage of this feature.  But this will increase every day.  The time to address this issue is now.  Multiple coordinated landing pages have to be an integral part of your PPC efforts.  Visual as well as content design will now be a factor in your ads CTR.  Being proactive in making design changes now, will give you the advantage over your competitor.  With the high cost per click of some keywords out there, this could save a significant amount of spends, as well as capture leads from your competitors.

IMI has a strategy in place for dealing with this change, that we are applying to our current and future clients.  We recommend that you do the same.  Check back for further details on Google’s Instant Preview for PPC.

Erick van der Lee – SEM Manager – InternetMarketingInc

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