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The Implications of Changes in Mobile SERPs

By Snap Agency November 11, 2019

Of all the webpages available online, few bring more value to searchers and digital marketers alike than search engine results pages (SERPs). SERP rankings can make or break content visibility, clicks, SEO success, and even conversions. The average internet user doesn’t look farther than the first five search results on these pages, and 75 percent never pass the first SERP. That means that competition for these crucial rankings is fierce. 

Search engines face the challenge of helping users find relevant, accessible results more quickly as searches move increasingly towards mobile. To that extent, Google frequently changes its algorithm to make it more effective for users. To make the most of these changes and stay ahead of the competition, it’s vital to have a thorough understanding of new SERP strategies, as well as the potential effects they may have on digital marketing efforts. 

Google’s New Mobile Search Strategy

Google’s most recent answer to the complicated concept of mobile search was released in May of this year. Mobile SERPs now show a site’s icon instead of a URL and prioritize results differently. Paid media designations and URLs have also changed from green to black. Although these changes might seem small, they carry significant implications for SEO, SEM, and digital strategies as a whole.

SEO and SEM Implications

Gone are the days of traditional, text-only mobile SERPs. Instead, Google results also show video, images, products, and much more. It’s time to broaden your horizons and optimize your content for maximum SEO potential. This might mean making sure your website is optimized for mobile search or starting on some significant content updates due to the varied results that can now show up in SERPs.

SERP changes affect every aspect of search engine marketing (SEM), not just SEO. Since every facet of digital marketing is crucial to building an integrated marketing strategy, be wary of losing sight of the larger picture and neglecting SEM as a whole. Through helpful approaches like persona-based marketing, smaller tools like keywords, images, snippets, and even memes can become powerful SEM forces. Use them wisely.

What SERP Changes Offer Digital Marketers

Google’s new mobile SERP changes also offer many positives for digital marketing. Here’s what you can expect.

Easier Content Optimization

The expanded types of content offer brands and marketers a better chance of increasing their search rankings. By knowing how mobile SERPs prioritize content—which is now far more than keywords and backlinking—you can optimize your content to best match these changes in criteria. This may actually make it easier to optimize content, since businesses now have multiple options for creating higher-quality digital marketing materials. However, the mobile SERP changes will undoubtedly increase competition across industries as more brands seek to come out on top.

New Branding Potential

Recent mobile SERP updates also included the introduction of “favicons” or small, brand-associated icons that pop up in browser tabs when your website is searched. This update is the first time visual branding has been used in SERPs. Strong favicons are expected to help increase click-through rates and overall website traffic by providing easily-identifiable markers to searchers.

Smarter Paid Search Options

One of the most significant changes in the new SERP updates is the color transition of paid ads. Once-green PPC designations are now black, de-emphasizing their paid status and allowing for a more natural blend with organic search results. Since users have become used to avoiding the green URLs, the switch to black might lead to more clicks on paid content. Even though CTR might increase, we expect to see cost-per-click losses during the adjustment period. 

A Downside of SERP Changes

Although Google’s recent SERP changes offer many positives to digital marketers, the new organization also makes it more challenging to measure success using Google Analytics. Organic search results now start halfway down the mobile results page, following paid ads and new prioritizations, including snippets, Knowledge Graphs, and People Also Ask. Since analytics doesn’t measure anything before organic position 1, it may become increasingly difficult to get clicks from organic results. With this in mind, it’s essential to start measuring success beyond Google results. It’s also helpful to take the time to study the appearance of various mobile SERPs so that you can make more strategic decisions about best utilizing the new format.

Make SERP Changes Work For You

Though we can follow mobile ad best practices until the cows come home, digital marketers won’t fully understand how recent mobile SERP changes will affect SEO and SEM strategies for some time. To make the most of evolving search engine algorithms, contact Snap. Our forward-thinking team is equipped to handle whatever changes search engines may throw our way—and we’ll make sure that you are, too.