Google Just Announced at #SMX 3 Pack will include 1 Ad & Only 2 Listings per Joy


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Running out door, but wanted to share this quick.

Joy Hawkins just posted at our G+ Pro Community:

"Well....Google just announced at SMX that the 3-pack is going to start containing an ad soon. So instead of the 3-pack it's going to be 1-ad + 2 organic listings. Yes, the ones right on Google search (not the expanded pack). Be prepared to try to get clients in the top 2 instead of the top 3!"


There is a continuing discussion over there with lots of interesting comments.
Here are the 1st few:



Head over to see comments as they roll in, but feel free to add comments here as well.

What do you think?

Did you see this coming?

Did you think it would happen this soon???



I'll be back in a couple hours to see if anything else develops and to read your comments.
Gotta run to the vet.

 
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Re: Google Just Announced at #SMX 3 Pack will include 1 Ad & Only 2 Listings per Joy

Well, well. I guess we all saw this coming. Still, this is really the reverse of a helping hand for SMBs in a struggling economy.
 

JoyHawkins

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Re: Google Just Announced at #SMX 3 Pack will include 1 Ad & Only 2 Listings per Joy

Clearly Google isn't struggling. ;)

However I'm not sure SEO is cheaper than AdWords these days. Competing for the top 3 is more expensive than it used to be and hiring someone for $100/month won't cut it .

When I think back to how much SMBs were willing to pay for YellowPages, Google is still cheaper.
 
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Re: Google Just Announced at #SMX 3 Pack will include 1 Ad & Only 2 Listings per Joy

If paid search isn't part of your strategy today... you should probably get a game plan for it tomorrow. Don't expect to only drive traffic through one source. Diversify and make sure you're driving through social, organic, paid, and referral. Google will continue to make more changes to drive higher revenues, so it's just something we need to expect and adapt to.
 

mborgelt

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Re: Google Just Announced at #SMX 3 Pack will include 1 Ad & Only 2 Listings per Joy

I agree with Eric. The "one trick pony" days of digital marketing are coming to an end. But while one door is closing another just opened up. Thanks for sharing the news!
 

Dave

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Re: Google Just Announced at #SMX 3 Pack will include 1 Ad & Only 2 Listings per Joy

Clearly Google isn't struggling. ;)

However I'm not sure SEO is cheaper than AdWords these days. Competing for the top 3 is more expensive than it used to be and hiring someone for $100/month won't cut it .

When I think back to how much SMBs were willing to pay for YellowPages, Google is still cheaper.
I agree with that last sentence Joy. .....but with ads becoming ever more prominent that has been changing for us.

Hey Joy, you are giving away your age with that last comment. And so am I. We've been using adwords roughly as long as I've been doing local seo, which is over a decade. We do it for mostly our own accounts. For our very small niche smb's we've lived off high organic/maps/pac visibility and extensive adwords, with organic/pac/maps clicks SIGNIFICANTLY generating more clicks than ads.

But the volume and percentages of clicks on ads ever ever increases. Its skyrocketed off of mobile.

Big G is changing from a search engine to an ad machine. What is now Waaaaaaaaaaaaay back is that google became the search monopoly it is by giving better organic results. That world has changed.

I wish to heck that the huge user world would get a context of this. If searchers migrated elsewhere and the word got out that Google was a freaking ad machine...maybe the monopoly would crack.

Or maybe that is wishful thinking...
 

JoyHawkins

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Re: Google Just Announced at #SMX 3 Pack will include 1 Ad & Only 2 Listings per Joy

I would love someone to come up with a search engine that is better than Google but I am skeptical.
 

Chris D

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Re: Google Just Announced at #SMX 3 Pack will include 1 Ad & Only 2 Listings per Joy

What about the case when I'll own first organic and ad at the same time?

That sounds a bit unfair right?
 
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Re: Google Just Announced at #SMX 3 Pack will include 1 Ad & Only 2 Listings per Joy

What about the case when I'll own first organic and ad at the same time?

That sounds a bit unfair right?
Hi Chris,

Normally the 1st in the pack is also 1st organic. Usually all 3 in the pack are at the top of organic. That's been happening for quite some time.

So if someone is #1 pack and organic, they should not pay for an ad. Or if they drop the ad, they should still be in the pack anyway.
 

JoyHawkins

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Re: Google Just Announced at #SMX 3 Pack will include 1 Ad & Only 2 Listings per Joy

Technically they can be the first paid ad, the first local pack, and the first organic if they're doing a killer job. I see this all the time. I usually always advise doing AdWords to clients b/c generally it's not double-dipping. If you don't advertise, it just means your competitor will get that spot instead of you. Someone is gonna be there - might as well be you.

Barry wrote about this and his mockup looks pretty much identical to the example they showed.

https://www.seroundtable.com/google-local-pack-to-get-adwords-ads-22275.html

Also, I commented that I asked Google if there would be 4 ads above this and the answer was probably not. They're testing variations of 1 ad, 2 ads etc to see what is best. My thought is they'll probably go with either no ads above (like the example they showed), or 1-2. 5 ads in a row probably wouldn't be a great plan.
 

Chris D

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Re: Google Just Announced at #SMX 3 Pack will include 1 Ad & Only 2 Listings per Joy

Yes Linda thanks, I agree. I just have a feeling that this step is going to mess the concept of paid and organic. Look, right now we have two major types of results ads and organics. It's quite clear for users and marketers. If you want to dominate serps you can be present in top paid and top organic results and in most cases you will be able to achieve one for each. Now they say 3-pack will contain one ad. And here it gets complicated. New paid results won't be visible in top paid results but in the panel that used to be organic.

So from the user perspective (just my feeling) it can be unclear if this is ad or not. And from the marketer perspective it can be most wanted case to be visible in top ads, organic local pack and new ad in local pack. Like a SEM hat-trick :D
 

Dave

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Re: Google Just Announced at #SMX 3 Pack will include 1 Ad & Only 2 Listings per Joy

Hi Chris,

Normally the 1st in the pack is also 1st organic. Usually all 3 in the pack are at the top of organic. That's been happening for quite some time.

So if someone is #1 pack and organic, they should not pay for an ad. Or if they drop the ad, they should still be in the pack anyway.
Linda: I wouldn't necessarily agree with that. We have been running adwords for over a decade. Ads are very often #1 ranked. On some of our smb's the sites have virtually always had #1 organic rankings and in the PAC have been #1 also.

Over a very long period of time, the percentage of clicks keeps moving ever more toward a higher percentage of paid clicks. This has been going on for a decade. More importantly since google mobile dramatically changed the view of mobile wherein ads dominate and at times (lets say most of the time) the first view on mobile is ALL ads--nothing in the pac, no map, no organic---the percentage of clicks on ads has grown increasingly fast.

Fortunately we have always received more clicks on organic than ads, more conversions on organic. But lets face it. Google has become a severe Pay to play search engine.

Even with the example Barry gave, it being a "model" of what he and Joy saw, that may or may not be what evolves. And with the initial iteration on presentation, google might change that later on.

I'd think if one was #1 in organic, and had a #1 in ads...google might only show one of the two options.

Which would be preferable? A #1 position clearly showing as an ad (or maybe not so clearly showing as an ad to all users)...or a #2 position in the pac....representing the #1 pac result???

I don't know. My gut after years of this, is that a certain population still avoids obvious ads and goes to pac or organic results.

I think that would be worth its weight in gold as a survey!!!!!!!

But I think smb's are going to have to figure this out for themselves, and competitive situations in each market will dominate the perspective.

but cripes...its just a big damn ad machine. No two ways about it.
 

JoshuaMackens

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Re: Google Just Announced at #SMX 3 Pack will include 1 Ad & Only 2 Listings per Joy

Honestly, this makes me think a big ole' "W T F".

Terrible user experience.

They could do the ads when they had a 7 pack because there were more organic options. If someone owns the top ad and the top listing, 66% of the local finder is now one company. No diversity = poor user experience. Even Google subscribes to this by suppressing multiple rankings from one website in a SERP.

You know who's really happy about this change?

Yelp.
 
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Re: Google Just Announced at #SMX 3 Pack will include 1 Ad & Only 2 Listings per Joy

Honestly, this makes me think a big ole' "W T F".

Terrible user experience.

They could do the ads when they had a 7 pack because there were more organic options. If someone owns the top ad and the top listing, 66% of the local finder is now one company. No diversity = poor user experience. Even Google subscribes to this by suppressing multiple rankings from one website in a SERP.

You know who's really happy about this change?

Yelp.
How many average users will even notice? They'll recognize the listing under the map because it's styled differently than the rest of the page. The fact that Google will slap a "deal" or "ad" symbol next to the brand might not matter as much. We've all seen what they've tested and rolled out with the font change in ads to look more like organic listings, and changing the color styles how they present ads. My guess is that G will do the same things with this type of ad until they get a formula that yields a high enough click-through-rate to be suitable for them.

A majority of people don't understand the map pack, or don't really care. SEO's/Internet marketers do because this is where we work every day. If someone owns the top ad and top listing, why wouldn't the average user think "wow, this company must be awesome" and call them?

I wonder if they'll test bringing back the 7-pack to try and pack a few more ads into it; at least in desktop searches.
 

dmarks

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Re: Google Just Announced at #SMX 3 Pack will include 1 Ad & Only 2 Listings per Joy

Is this open to all advertisers without regard to actually having a location in the geographic area? This seems like a windfall for lead gen providers and savvy marketers and a big loss for small businesses.
 

JoshuaMackens

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Re: Google Just Announced at #SMX 3 Pack will include 1 Ad & Only 2 Listings per Joy

How many average users will even notice? They'll recognize the listing under the map because it's styled differently than the rest of the page. The fact that Google will slap a "deal" or "ad" symbol next to the brand might not matter as much. We've all seen what they've tested and rolled out with the font change in ads to look more like organic listings, and changing the color styles how they present ads. My guess is that G will do the same things with this type of ad until they get a formula that yields a high enough click-through-rate to be suitable for them.
It's really not about the user noticing if it's an ad or not in my opinion. You are correct, most users don't notice. Although, I will say this one is pretty noticeable. It's green and right there. It's an eyesore a bit.

A majority of people don't understand the map pack, or don't really care. SEO's/Internet marketers do because this is where we work every day. If someone owns the top ad and top listing, why wouldn't the average user think "wow, this company must be awesome" and call them?
The real issue is advertising. As consumers, we don't trust ads because we know its a company message. You may trust the message but the messenger is tripping you up. It's not coming from a trusted source. This is the reason for the massive disparity in CTR's between ads and organic SERP's.

It is also reinforced when you click an ad. I can't tell you how many times I've clicked an ad and it was no where near to what I was looking for. Like if I search for a specific type of shoe and I put the word "red" in Google. Some of the ads take me to a landing page with red shoes (this actually happened to me). I don't want red shoes. I want a specific type of red shoe. And this is precisely why Google includes landing page as a factor in Adwords, because they want relevancy but it's not enough. This experience reinforces to the user what they've learned ever since they started watching TV, that "ads aren't trustworthy". And then with Google it expands to "paid ads don't get me what I want but organic search results do".

So, it's a poor user experience because typically, ads blow, just to be frank. They're taking away the opportunity to see a very helpful search result and replacing with an ad which may or may not be helpful.

Honestly, I'm totally fine with it because all it means is change. And I like change because it makes our competitive market thinner. More Local SEO's get out after these changes and it widens the chasm when it comes to specializing in Local SEM vs other digital marketing companies that try to specialize in it all. It's actually great news for all of us.

But for the user? Not in my opinion.

I wonder if they'll test bringing back the 7-pack to try and pack a few more ads into it; at least in desktop searches.
I thought that myself and I hope so but honestly, they made the decision to switch out of it and Google hardly ever reverses course. There was a solid reason they moved from the 7 pack to the 3 pack and I don't see them reverting. I think it would be the smart thing to do but Google doesn't always seem to do the smart thing. Or there's always the high probability that they're smarter at what they do than me and they're doing exactly what they should be :)
 

JoshuaMackens

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Re: Google Just Announced at #SMX 3 Pack will include 1 Ad & Only 2 Listings per Joy

Is this open to all advertisers without regard to actually having a location in the geographic area? This seems like a windfall for lead gen providers and savvy marketers and a big loss for small businesses.
Correct me if I'm wrong but I believe to show in the local finder ads currently you need an address in the city. I imagine it would work the same way.

Can anyone confirm this? Joy or Eric?
 

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