Microsoft is testing the placement of paid search ads mixed in with organic results, rather than displaying them to the sides or top of them, the Rimm-Kaufman Group reports. While the sponsored links are still marked as being advertisements, the inclusion of paid ads within organic results may be confusing to some consumers, and SEO marketers should consider how this can impact their Bing search optimization efforts.
As Brafton reported, a study conducted earlier this year by User Centric indicates consumers spend less time looking at search ads to the side and top of search results. Ninety percent of participants glanced over the top paid search links on Bing, while only 21 percent looked at those on the right. Meanwhile, top organic results in the middle of the page (often the result of quality content marketing efforts) command searchers’ attention.
Here’s a look at where Bing is (testing) placing search ads:
By incorporating paid ads into organic results, Bing may help advertisers may generate more clicks. On the other hand, this may diminish the trust consumers have in Bing’s results – and SEO marketers will want to monitor whether search ad inclusion in the middle of SERPs impacts their content pages’ rankings.
A Microsoft spokesperson confirmed to Search Engine Land that the company was indeed experimenting with embedded ads, noting the company will carefully test user engagement with them and reaction to the new format.
Yahoo tested a similar paid inclusion format in 2009, but dropped it by the end of the year following criticism from users and advertisers.