This has been an interesting move from Google in the further merge between PPC and SEO. The sceptic in me would suggest that this is a clear mark by Google to increase revenues from sponsored search (which is working, hence the newly announced 27% increase in revenues for Q1 2011) in a market where brand bidding could soon be gone.
A quick reminder of the steps that Google has recently taken to increase traffic via PPC:
1 - Sponsored ads now contain site-links, in a similar way to organic listings
2 - Sponsored links often appear on one line, mirroring the appearance of organic listings
3 - Maps, News and other relevant content appear above organic listings, increasing the prominence of sponsored links
For Example, spot the difference between the sponsored ads and the organic listings below:
4 - Now, there is another beta being trialled by Google (in the US) which merges this line further: "Keywordless Ads"
Keywordless ads launched in the US for Merchant Centre last year, enabling advertisers to automatically create PPC ads from their Merchant Feed. Now, there is a second stage to this for those who are not Merchants: Google will use your site content to generate PPC ads and bid on keywords for you, allowing PPC advertisers to focus on content and on-site factors in order to optimise their paid targeting. i.e optimise your site for SEO to improve your PPC visibility and traffic.
This new offering claims to ‘Allow PPC advertisers to focus on content and on-site factors in order to optimise their paid targeting’. In reality, this would remove the control advertisers have over PPC, and sounds very similar to the ‘expanded broad match’ beta a few years ago. We all remember the effect of this on Clients performance.
In summary, we will monitor closely and if it rolls out, we will be very careful to judge whether to recommend keywordless ads to Clients. However, by running this Beta, Google are continuing to test their SERP model, which will seemingly result in a more competitive landscape for advertisers and a more lucrative search results page for Google.