New Google Search Format

Date: July 7, 2011

Subject: Analysis of Google’s New Format for Paid and Organic Search Results

Background: On June 28 Google announced a change to the way ads will appear in their search engine results pages. In the new format, the display URL has been relocated directly beneath the title, above the first line of the description. Previously, the display URL appeared last. This change affects all paid and organic search listings in Google, regardless of their location on the page.

Industry Implications: It is most likely that this new format will primarily serve to improve the quality of traffic to brand sites from brand search terms. By making the display URL more prominent, it will allow the searcher the ability to more easily identify official brand sites, as opposed to informational sites such as WebMD or nlm.nih.gov, or ads of competitors. Advertisers bidding on brand terms of competitors may find a decrease click volume, which could ultimately have a negative effect on quality score.

Recommendation: As in accordance with best practices, our clients should already be capturing close to 100% share of voice for brand terms, so this action wouldn’t affect bidding strategy. However, we will use this as a good opportunity to reexamine our clients’ display URLs for brands running both HCP and consumer paid search efforts. Since the display URL is going to be much more prominent, we will be ensuring that display URLs clearly indicate if the destination is for HCPs (ie. www.brand.com/HCP, or www.brand.com/doctors) for brand terms. This will help to further qualify traffic to the brand site.

We will also be performing a pre/post analysis where possible, for our paid search clients, to monitor for any effects to click through rate and bounce rate across all search terms. In addition, campaigns containing competitor brand terms will be monitored for effects to quality score and cost per click. Any actionable learnings and/or recommended next steps will be shared in our regularly delivered reporting.