Google Adwords ads have always been, shall we say, visually subtle. Their motivation for doing this is obvious enough. This is Dark Patterns 101.
Well Google just changed the visual layout of their results pages again, and now, the top-ranking (centre-column) ads are near-indistinguishable from organic results.
New ad format:
… compared with the old ad format (for the same search query):
What this means for you:
- Paid listings are even more likely to be mistaken for organic listings. So whatever is at the top of the page, wins.
- Competitor ads appearing for searches on your brand name (above your #1 organic listing) are likely to be mistaken for your organic listing.
The inevitable, painful-to-type recommendations are:
- Organic listings have been rendered less effective, so it’s less feasible to rely solely on them.
- Ignoring PPC altogether is now less feasible.
- You really need to bid on your brand terms now (a common past bone of contention – this latest change seals it).
Do no evil, eh?