It’s frustrating when you finally achieve a top search ranking for your target keyword, only to discover that your site’s traffic has gone down. Conventional wisdom should tell you that search rankings directly influence traffic. The higher your site ranks in Google, the more traffic it will receive — at least that’s the general belief. Because of recent SERPs (Search Engine Ranking Pages) changes, however, this isn’t always the case.
AdWords Ads Now Show Above Organic Search Results
One of the major serps changes affecting organic search traffic is the transition of AdWords ads. In the past, AdWords ads were displayed at the top of the search results as well as the right-hand side. In February 2016, the Mountain View-based company made a major change, eliminating all ads on the right-hand side. Instead, it began displaying more ads above its organic search listings at the top of the page.
Under this new format, Google displays up to four paid search ads above organic search listings. This typically means that users will see only two organic search results above the fold; the remaining results require the user to scroll.
To further compound the issue, Google now displays three local business listings for local searches below AdWords ads and above organic listings. Known as the local 3-pack, it’s prime search engine real estate for owners of local businesses.
Statistics show that nearly half of all searches performed on Google have local intent. In other words, the user performing the search is looking for information pertaining to a local business or establishment. Google has acknowledged this trend by displaying local business listings in its local 3-pack. When you perform a local search like “pizza near me,” Google displays three relevant business listings at the top, followed by a “More Places” link with additional local business listings.
How These Changes Affect Organic Search Traffic
The combination of Google’s local 3-pack and paid search listings being displayed at the top has resulted in a loss of organic traffic for many webmasters. With organic listings being buried under paid and local listings, you may notice this trend in your site’s traffic logs.
How to Generate More Organic Search Traffic
Even with these serps changes, however, there are ways to boost your site’s organic search traffic. For starters, use unique, relevant and eye-catching titles for your site’s pages. These are the clickable headlines that Google, as well as other search engines, display for their search listings.
You can also generate more organic search traffic by targeting the right keywords. Choosing keywords with too much competition is a recipe for failure. Instead, consider short-tail keywords with low-to-moderate competition.
These are just a few serps changes that webmasters should be aware of. It’s important to note that Google is constantly changing its search results pages. With that said, it appears that Google is encouraging users to invest in AdWords by placing ads at the top of its search results. Whether this format remains, however, is yet to be seen.