Posted in on February 26, 2016

Google Surprises Us Again! Why Senior Living and Housing Marketers Should Care About This Change

Google made another sudden, major change this week in regards to its search engine results pages (SERPs). While the change is still rolling out, very soon it will affect every search made through Google.

Why should you care?

If you are investing marketing dollars in Google’s paid search product, AdWords, listen up! I’m going to tell you why – and how to roll with the changes so that your senior living and housing marketing results do not suffer.

This Time, It’s about PAID SEARCH

If you’ve kept up with Google at all over the last few years, you probably weren’t surprised this week when you heard the hubbub online about another update the search engine giant was making to its algorithm. I know I certainly wasn’t.

However, most past algorithm changes (like Panda and Penguin) affected organic search results. (Moz has a great timeline if you are interested in past updates:

This week’s update was different because it affected Paid Search results instead.

Most senior living and housing marketers have realized (or your agency has advised you) that Paid Search campaigns( sometimes called Pay-Per-Click ads or PPC) on major search engines are a cost-effective, rather immediate way to reach your target audience who are actively searching for information you likely have.

Google’s AdWords product reaches the largest audience in paid search. Let’s be honest here: Google is the king, at least for now.

So what exactly was the king’s latest, greatest update and why should you care? I know you are anxious …

Paid Search Text Ads Lose the “Right” of Way

The latest update, in a nutshell:

Google REMOVED the Paid Search text ads from the right-hand sidebar of its Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

change to google paid search results right side


Prior to this update, ad positions 4 or higher were still commonly displayed above-the-fold on the right-hand side bar.

For commercialized searches, primarily retail-oriented, you may see paid image/shopping ads there. But for pretty much everything else, you will now see a big blank area.

What does this mean for you?

If your campaigns have text ads that typically land in position 5 or higher, your ads will now be found at the bottom of the page.

This will likely lead to less clicks, causing your click-through-rate (CTR) to suffer, and your cost-per-click (CPC) to rise.

Fact: Did you know the lower your CTR is, the more you actually pay per click? CTR is important in Paid Search. This will also likely cause a domino effect to occur, because if your CTR drops, so will your Quality Score.

Quality Score is calculated by Google by taking into consideration the keywords you are targeting, the relevancy of the text ads you are displaying, the likelihood that people will click on them (CTR) and the landing page experience. Google always wants to show the most relevant ads for each inquiry. They also want to be sure that anyone that clicks on those ads will then be taken to a landing page that doesn’t  leave them confused and disappointed.

The Silver Lining: Position 4 is now in the top block! After this change, there are up to four paid ads displayed above the organic results (formerly only three).

Sample google organic and paid search results for phrase "senior living in Florida"

What Do You Need To Do Now?

Take a quick look at your Ad Rank report for your active ads in AdWords.*

If you have ads that rank 5 or higher, you need to increase your Ad Rank. Here’s how:

1)      Increase your bids on your keywords. You may need to invest a little more.

2)      Adjust your ad copy and landing page content in order to improve your quality score. Think “matchy-matchy”.

3)      Be sure you are utilizing all relevant Ad Extensions with your ads.

Performing these three steps will undoubtedly increase your Ad Rank. Shoot for positions 1-4 for best positioning (although our friends at Wordstream have done initial research indicating that position 3 is the “sweet spot” for capturing click-through in this new layout).

* What Will Creating Results Do Now?

I just conducted an audit of Ad Ranks for Creating Results’ clients and have to admit, I was nervous.

I’m monitoring Ad Ranks all the time but, of course, still get anxious about getting clients to the top.

It was wonderful to see that every single one of our client accounts has an average ad position that places them within the new “top block of 4” – above the organic results. Yahoo!

Google Ad RankWe’ll keep our focus on these ranks as we know that competitors will be / should be upping their game.


What do you think of Google’s latest change? What steps is your team planning to take? We’d love to hear your thoughts– comment below!

Need help taking action? Creating Results is an officially certified Google Partner agency and we are always here to help!

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