Why Google AdWords Don't Look Like Ads To Most Consumers

For Lawyers, Doctors, and Dentists

We all know that the top listings on Google search results are paid ads . . . or do we?

Earlier this year (February), a survey reported by Ofcom indicated 50% of Internet users who were shown a Google search result screenshot could not identify which listings were paid advertisements. Probably like you, I found this very surprising. 

However, read on . . .

Since then, Google has made some additional changes to how results are displayed.  A more recent survey now shows these changes have increased the number of users who could not identify paid ads to 55%.

How could this be? 

Well, once you take a closer look, you can understand why. 

We all know that Google makes the majority of its revenue (key to appeasing investors and Wall Street) through advertisers paying click-through charges for PPC advertisements.  It is in Google’s financial interest to get users to click on the pay-per-click listings, particularly those listing with the highest bids.  But they need to accomplish this very subtly to avoid turning off the user.

So what changes may have increased this subtle user confusion?

1.  One change that may help the PPC listings blend with the rest of the organic results is the use of color.  The “Ad” icon next to the PPC listing changed from yellow to green, which matches the color of the website domain listed in the ad.  This use of color draws your eyes to the icon, but quickly moves your eyes to the domain of the listing.

2.  Similar to the local map listings in Google search results, paid ads can now include map pins, the practice’s address and link to a Google Map and Google My Business profile.

3.  Google also includes interactive links (dynamic structured snippets) such as business hours and titles with links to key pages of the website. 











These interactive links in the ads are referred to as structured snippets.  Here is a link to Google Support regarding how dynamic structured snippets appear on your Google ad.

Key Take Away

All this being said, I am not campaigning for you to invest in Google Adwords or not.  That isn’t the point. 

Rather, I simply want you to avoid making unsubstantiated assumptions that cut your practice off from real opportunities, or lead you to focus on the wrong ones.

Here is another example of misconceptions regarding consumer search habits that will probably surprise you.  See why you may be over fixated on the certain keyword phrases in your SEO efforts.


Marketing assumptions that become outdated misconceptions = Waste Money and Missed Opportunities.

~ Bill Fukui, Director of Sales & Marketing