Google’s SERP changes: Performance Snapshot

March 23, 2016
Nichelle Schulz

search

Since I last wrote about the changes Google had made to the search engine results page (SERP), there have been a few noticeable, but subtle, performance fluctuations. Taking a look at all of our DSA search campaigns, I looked at the different industry segments to see which ones were affected the most. I separated the run dates from the month leading up to the changes, and one month after the changes. Of course, there are a number of outlying factors that aren’t taken into account, such as search volume in the different geographies, optimizations made and client budget restrictions. Some industries were already doing well, with top average page positions and low cost per clicks, so the changes to these weren’t as surprising as other industries who struggle to compete in the auction. Here’s my breakdown:

Telecom saw a big lift in click-through rate (CTR), the biggest out of all the industry segments I looked at. The increase was over 5%, which is very healthy. The average page position didn’t change much, but it was already doing very well. Surprisingly, the impression share dropped about 2%, which isn’t substantial, but this is where I would’ve initially attributed the increased CTR. Taking another look, I broke out the performance by device, and the CTR increase came from desktops. Mobile and tablet were already doing well, but a CTR increase of almost 8% was received by desktop computers. The search volume stayed the same, but the clicks increased, due to a lower cost per click (CPC).

Food/Grocery had a small jump in CTR and CPC, but a big increase in impression share, by over 10%. These campaigns already had fairly strong Quality Score, so it looks like the increase in impression share came from a decrease in eligible competitors.

Financial/Insurance stayed pretty much the same across the board. Nothing really jumped out other than a small decrease in CPC, allowing the campaigns to get more clicks for the same amount of budget.

Tech/IT was the industry I was most worried about, as it has a high amount of competitors, and has a hard time holding a decent page position. The CTR ended up increasing by almost a half percent, and the page position improved by 1.3, helping to secure a spot within the top three. However, the CPC rose quite a bit, but as the ads are now more visible to users searching, my guess is the clicks are more qualified traffic.

Health/Pharmacy did really well overall, with a healthy CTR increase of over 1%, an improvement on an already strong page position, and an 11% impression share increase.

Taking an overall look at all of our campaigns, CTR increased by over 2%, average page position didn’t change much, CPC actually went down (but only by $0.24) and impression share stayed about the same. It might be too early to do any real comparisons at this point, but some of the significant performance changes should be monitored to help show trends in the reporting, to better understand what to expect.

Nichelle Schulz

Digital Specialist at DSA Media

Tags: SEM, SERP,