Google, Bing and Yahoo have been pushing more advertising spots per keyword through their platforms to meet ad delivery requests for under-served ads, for both paid-search and product listing ads.
For example, there are typically eight ad spots per one particular keyword and suddenly there are 12, explains Lori Weiman, CEO and cofounder of The Search Monitor.
"Sometimes Google will push a higher number of PLAs and the number of organic listings will drop on page one," she said. "If you're an agency doing SEO and struggling to optimize your client's positioning, and suddenly the keywords they picked are inundated, this means there are fewer organic spots on the page."
Segmented search marketing teams fuel the problem, and there are measurable benefits to having the teams work together. Weiman said marketers who solely focus on SEO would never know that no matter how hard they try to optimize the keyword, especially on mobile, it will never rank well on page one in organic listings. Teams that work together can direct search efforts to the channel that will have the biggest impact per keyword, she said.
The spikes are not tests, per Weiman, but rather Google's usual way of doing business. Suddenly they will push more ads and then taper down.
"It’s probably fair to say that driving organic search growth has never been more challenging, due to growing monetization of search results," said Alex Edlund, digital marketing leader at Choice Hotels International. "Search engines continue to develop enhanced ad formats that consume the shelf-space above the fold, including paid search and Meta listings."
Edlund doesn't expect the monetization of these ads to slow down, and believes the trend will continue to put pressure on companies that want to grow their presence in search.