Google’s Game-Changing Four-Pack Paid Search: How to Stay on Track

In case you haven’t noticed yet, a Google SERP has a new face – and its impact on your SEO strategies is something you shouldn’t ignore. Otherwise, you’ll end up being the loser in the search giant’s “refined” gameplay.

Earlier this year, Google has rolled out its new update – the four-pack paid search. They have removed the paid ads on the right hand side of the SERPs and placed three to four ads at the top, just above the organic search results.

Why should I care? You might ask. Let’s put it this way: as the four-pack paid search results are pushing organic search results down below the fold, you might want to review and adjust your SEO strategy. Of course, you can just ride the wave and deploy your winning PPC campaigns, but this could mean a huge increase in your digital marketing budget. If you’re equally interested in ranking on organic search, you better change your game plan.

In reality, marketers and business owners, are living inside Google’s house, so we need to live by their rules.

So how can you adjust your SEO strategies to stay relevant and click-worthy amid the big change in Google SERPs? Let’s discuss them one by one.

Think Inside the (Answer) Box

Do you know that you can beat your competitors (even the big ones) by aiming for the Google’s answer box? You don’t need to rank first to make your content appear in this box; just informative and well-structured content that answers a query directly.

Here’s the trick:

Think of a question that your target customers are likely to ask. If you’re offering SEO services, for example, one of the queries your customers will type on the search bar would be “how to improve my ranking”. Make this question your H1 tag and place the answer to this question at the topmost part or section of your content.



Find Your Place in the Local Pack

Local optimization should be a priority if you have a physical store or location. With the right strategy and implementation, your website will appear on the local pack, that section with a map and a list of businesses under it. Take this screenshot as an example:


The businesses listed under the map belong to the local pack. They appear below the four-pack (in this case, the SERP provides only three).

Of course, this is possible if you have listed your business in all local directories and started a Google My Business page. A complete and consistent NAP and a bunch of positive reviews will also help. Don’t forget to add local business schema markups to your code.

Focus on Value, Not the Keywords

Stop writing for keywords and start writing for readership and value. Keyword stuffing is a thing of the past. We should move on and adopt the strategies that work today.

Google is smart enough to understand what your page or even your website is all about, so there’s no point in placing your keywords in almost every paragraph. Using related terms or semantically linked keywords is enough to help Google know your sincere intention and place you on top of the search result for a relevant query.

Balance Your Efforts

Let’s make it clear: the four-pack roll-out doesn’t mean you should focus solely on placing your ads on paid search results. Your PPC and organic SEO strategies must work hand in hand to dominate both paid and organic SERPs. Focus your organic search efforts on optimizing your website and content to rank on ad-free search results.

Google has changed the game once again, but you can stay on the right track by refining your SEO strategy and adapting to the new roll-out. Talk to Third Stage Marketing for more tips on how to keep up with the changes and stay on top of both organic and paid search results.


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