Google Introduces “Side Search”

KLIK Staff

October 22, 2021

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How Google’s latest innovation to its UX impacts your search advertising

Any marketer who works in paid search is very familiar with the fact that Google is constantly updating its platform in order to stay ahead of the curve, in regards to both advertisers and the consumer. While these updates almost always lead to improvements to existing processes, there is always going to be something that impacts the advertiser. Google’s recent introduction of “Side Search” is no exception.

While still in beta, Google’s “Side Search” feature allows the user to open landing pages on the results page, while keeping the SERP in view on a side panel on the left side of the user’s browser. The user is able to access this feature in Chrome OS Dev Channel on desktop and can open the side panel by selecting the “G” icon on the top left side of the browser next to the search bar. 

“Side Search” already seems like both a welcome and intuitive feature that will make the user’s browsing experience even more seamless, however, there are some key factors that advertisers need to know. The first is that this feature has the potential to drastically increase a landing page’s bounce rate. In a world where the consumer has more options than ever at their fingertips, the ability to view competitor listings while on one’s landing page is a startling concept for marketers to get their heads around. Given that competing listings can now stay top of mind while a consumer is on your landing page, it is now more important than ever to make sure that your landing page is as strong as possible. Poor quality images, irrelevant and uninspired copy, and slow links will no longer cut it. Your landing page needs to be top-notch to excel alongside the “Side Search” interface. If your page isn’t up to par with your competitors, their product is now a simple click away.

The second impact is in regards to attribution, as this is still a new feature and Google has yet to give details on how tracking will work. The largest concern is what Google considers a click with this feature. If the platform considers viewing a PLP while still viewing the SERP using Side Search, then there is the potential for metrics like Click-to-Lead and Click-to-Conversion Rate to plummet. Along with bounce rate, having competing listings right next to your landing page can be very tempting to the consumer and lead them to jump off your page if they don’t quickly find what they are looking for. If these views using Side Search are attributed as a click, once strong Click-to-Lead and Click-to-Conversion rates can drop seemingly overnight.

In order to mitigate this impact, marketers must ensure that their copy is not only strong and compelling but extremely relevant to both a user’s query and landing page copy. Be sure that you are running copy that is advertising value propositions and promotions used on the landing page in order to keep the consumer’s attention. Additionally, monitor SQRs regularly in order to have a solid grasp of what your audience is searching for. When you have a strong idea of the language and semantics your potential customers are using, make sure the copy in your listings is reflecting the same language.

It is now more important than ever to keep a consumer’s attention through every step of the buying process. While new features like Side Search may increase how crowded your purchasing funnel feels, marketers can still get their products into the hands of consumers with strong, high-quality messaging and a positive user experience. While the landscape is constantly changing at an exponential rate, there will never be a substitute for high-quality marketing efforts.

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