How will Google's recent search updates affect your Canadian plumbing & HVAC business?

If you're not using Google Ads to advertise your Canadian Plumbing & HVAC business, it may be time to revisit it.

Toby MacLeod
Founder & Principal Advisor

Google recently announced a small change to the way search results are displayed, but it could have an impact on the way you market your Canadian Plumbing & HVAC business online. In a recent announcement Google stated the following:

Last year, our search results on mobile gained a new look. That’s now rolling out to desktop results this week, presenting site domain names and brand icons prominently, along with a bolded “Ad” label for ads. Here’s a mockup:

To clarify, they added the following:

The format puts a site’s brand front & center, helping searchers better understand where information is coming from, more easily scan results & decide what to explore. Learn more about the new look in our post from last year, when it launched on mobile:

How could this update affect your Plumbing & HVAC business?

Google search results pages are comprised of two primary types of listings - Google Ads and organic listings. Up to four Google Ads can appear at the top of the search results page, followed by organic listings. Up until now, it's been fairly easy for consumers to distinguish between paid ads and organic listings. But over time Google has slowly made the paid listings harder to distinguish. With the latest update, it's even harder.

Consumers have become familiar with the difference between paid ads and organic listings, and while many will click on ads, many will also skip over the ads to the organic listings. Now that paid ads and organic listings look very similar, there is concern that consumers will inadvertently click on ads thinking they are organic listings. If your primary marketing strategy focuses on SEO, this could pose a problem.

To be clear the ads are still distinguished with a bold "Ad" symbol next to them, but by adding brand icons and domain names to the organic listings, that "Ad" symbol is harder to see. Now, if you use Google all the time this may not seem like a big deal, but the reality is most consumers will be oblivious to this.

What should you do?

There's no need for panic, but it's important to be aware of these changes. Google makes hundreds of changes to the way search works each year and most of the time, the changes are incremental and inconsequential. But every once in a while there's a change that has a big impact. Is this one of those changes? Time will tell. This is a good reminder that Google is in control and you have to play by their rules.

One of the big mistakes Plumbing & HVAC companies make is putting all their marketing eggs in one basket. You need to diversify your marketing tactics. You need to have a marketing strategy. If you're heavily focused on Google Ads over SEO or vise versa, it may be time to re-evaluate your strategy. While it's okay to focus on one tactic over the other - this is often the case due to limited resources - you should ultimately aim for a marketing strategy that balances both Google Ads and SEO.

Update: January 25th, 2020

Following the controversy over Google's update to the way paid ads and organic listings look, Google made the following announcement on January 24th, 2020:

Last week we updated the look of Search on desktop to mirror what’s been on mobile for months. We’ve heard your feedback about the update. We always want to make Search better, so we’re going to experiment with new placements for favicons….

Only time will tell what look Google will settle on and how these changes will affect Google Ads and SEO performance. We'll wait and see!