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Why Is Google testing transparency?

Better Adwords Transparency(Now On Desktop)

You may have noticed recently that Google have been making Adwords placements clearer on mobile devices by placing ‘AD’ next sponsored listings on the search engine result pages.

It appears that Google are now also testing this on desktop in the UK. If Google make this change permanent, it is unclear what the impact may be but it could be good news for some SEOs as many have become unhappy with the fact that Google fail to clearly differentiate paid listings from the organic results.

 

Test result for 'treadmill' search query..

Test result for ‘treadmill’ search query..

Google’s Motives

It appears that Google may be running tests to determine how seriously click through rates are affected if users are made aware that a listing is and advert.

Some people are of the opinion that Google do not play by their own rules as Google mention in this article that they don’t like websites that have ads that are indistinguishable from the rest of the website’s content.  Perhaps now they have decided to practice what they preach, or there maybe there is some legal reason behind the test.

Chris Dyson of Triple SEO thinks it could be related to the EU anti-trust problems that Google have been experiencing recently, this would make perfect sense as it would be wise for Google to pre-empt a solution to future issues.

Whatever the reason, I hope they do make this change permanent as it will give the user a clearer option of which search results are sponsored and which ones are organic.

 

Gordon Campbell

Gordon is an SEO, PPC and Social Media Consultant based in Glasgow, Scotland.

2 Comments

  1. Very interesting. To give Google some credit – the Ad label is very clear. Perhaps even arguably more clear than the pink/yellow that you can barely see on some monitors…

  2. Yeah.. That’s what makes it strange. I wonder why they would do this… It would be a hard decision for them to make if it actually lowers CTR…

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