Google’s search engine is changing. Where once it supplied answers to queries via links to reputable websites, today it just as often provides answers directly on the search engine results page (SERP). As Search Engine Land’s editor at large Jessica Bowman said during a keynote presentation to digital marketing professionals last month, Google is becoming less of a search engine and more of a portal.

This shift has major implications for businesses and the digital marketing teams that support them. Google now owns more of the customer journey than ever before: users can search for services and products, find troves of information, compare customer ratings, and in some cases even make transactions without leaving the SERP.

The new format has made visibility at the top of Google search results, and by extension paid search advertising and search engine optimization (SEO), more important than ever. Three or four years ago, the top three search results for a given query enjoyed almost-equal visibility. Now, Google content occupies much of that valuable real estate.

So, what can be done to maintain prominent placement? Marketing through Google Ads is an obvious choice. There’s little chance that Google will impede on paid ads’ prime position on the SERP given that ads drive billions of dollars in revenue to the company.

An effective SEO content strategy is also critical. As Search Engine Land notes: “Product information, news stories, how-to guides and various other types of content may receive higher visibility on SERPs if they appear as a knowledge panel, within a carousel or as a featured snippet.”

As a Google Premier Partner digital marketing agency with access to valuable insights on Google’s preferred practices, GrowthEngine Media is always prepared for changes in the digital marketing ecosystem. If you have questions about the latest updates to Google’s SERP, or if you would like to discuss new digital marketing tactics, don’t hesitate to reach out at any time.