Do the Google AdWords changes affect SpyFu results?

A couple of weeks ago when Google confirmed that it would be removing ads from the right side of the results pages, we all wondered what its direct impact would be. Some already have predicted higher costs for advertisers and looked at its effect on organic traffic.  Once you address the effects on your ads, the next question is “How does this affect the tools I use every day?” We expect your SpyFu data to still capture the top ads and organic results you are used to seeing.

A word on how we get our data

All of the SERP data you see on SpyFu comes directly from results we gather and store every month. (Most of our stats are calculated, but the starting data has most recently come from the Keyword Planner.) When we search millions of keywords across millions of SERPs, we get the first two pages of ads and the first 5 pages of organic results. Though Google is pushing its organic results down a bit to make room for up to 4 ads at the top, early results show they haven’t broken from showing 10 organic results per page. That means that we expect to still capture the same results, even though they are placed differently on the page. 

Here’s how we were set up to capture SERP data before the change: we got ads at the top and sides, organic results right after that.

Google ad layout showing right sidebar ads

The updates are (visually) significant, but we just look down below to make sure we catch all of the ads on the first two pages.


Google Serp page showing where SpyFu collects data

That leaves one potential wrinkle. In the old format, Google ran up to 11 ads on the first page, and now that drops to 7.  That moves the bar for ads. If it was tough before to be noticed at position 17 on page 2, now you have to be at position 14 to even make that page. SpyFu results will now catch ads in spots 1 through 14. Because we have seen advertisers angle for the first two pages (as opposed to stating their goal as “going for position #15”) we will keep our eyes on pages 1 and 2. Organic results remain set on positions 1 through 50.

Changes in advertiser trends

When we see the new data (with these changes) roll out in early April*, I will be watching for spending and ad positions to shift — mostly as a reflection of the advertisers reacting to potentially higher bids to stay on page 1. We’ll keep tabs on the ways that advertisers and content creators adjust — intentionally and unintentionally — to the new updates.

*New data from February has already started appearing on SpyFu as of March 2. Google confirmed around February 19 that the changes were rolling out world-wide, so consistent changes will be more obvious in March data. That data will populate SpyFu data as soon as early April.