I’ve been digging a bit further into the new layout of the More Sponsored Links on Google and it turns out that any clicks on these adverts are free!
In addition to the clicks being free they are also not recorded by AdWords and do not factor into any part of the system – no impressions, clicks or quality score. And for some, more importantly, if you use Google Conversion Tracking, no conversion events are recorded following clicks on these adverts.
Indeed Google goes on to point out that adverts on these pages are displayed using a different ad serving system to normal search results and adverts that have reached their daily budget still may be displayed here. In Google’s own words “Ads shown include those that have already met the daily budget for that day, ensuring that all ads have the same opportunity for exposure. This also ensures that users have comprehensive results for their query”.
With the new improved layout giving better visibility to adverts from a user perspective, will we now see an uptake in the number of searchers using the system? If this is the case then we will need to look deeper into how we can track these clicks – they are still pay per click adverts after all, it’s just that Google has decided not to charge for them (yet!).
A 3rd party tracking tool may allow you to view conversions that have originated from these clicks even though Google feels they have no importance in their own conversion tracking system. This can be traced through the referring site which rather than www.google.co.uk/search (for normal search traffic) is actually reported as www.google.co.uk/sponsoredlinks.
Further investigation now reveals that any clicks that originate from the More Sponsored Links section will be reported in Google Analytics as Google organic traffic (not referring traffic or paid traffic) making it much more difficult to separate out.
In summary these changes could see an increased uptake in the number of searchers utilising the feature. In turn this will lead to free traffic on your site that you may or may not be able to track depending on the level of complexity in your tracking software. Surely this free traffic from Google can’t last and once they feel happy enough that the system is optimised as much as possible the clicks will start getting charged!
- Google’s description of the features
- Google Help Thread