Earlier this week, I started to take a look at the top 10 biggest changes to happen in the paid search industry over the last decade plus. From ad rotation settings to device targeting, search marketers have certainly seen our fair share of new features and innovations. Today, I’ll reveal the top five biggest changes in paid search history:

5. Google enhanced campaigns

Google Enhanced Campaigns PieSome might argue this should be higher on the list. But before we bump it higher on the list, let’s wait and see how it all plays out after July. Google is fundamentally changing the way search marketers manage and optimize their AdWords campaigns. The migration to Google enhanced campaigns will place all device targeting capabilities under the roof of a single campaign, along with the ability to set mobile bid adjustments at the campaign and group level.

Theories differ on what the long term impact of enhanced campaigns will be on paid search performance, but what all search marketers can agree upon is the importance of a successful migration where enhanced campaigns are optimized to ensure post-migration success. We’ve invested too much time structuring and optimizing our campaigns to meet our business needs to dismiss enhanced campaigns as a minor change that will have minimal impact on paid search performance. If I recreated this list a year from now, I wouldn’t be surprised if enhanced campaigns were much higher on this list, but until we know more, I’m happy keeping it at number five.

4. Google Product Listing Ads

Google PLAs have been a game-changer for those in the online retail space. Managing listings are now easier, the listings are more accurate and up-to-date, and the ads themselves stand out and are more engaging. Though you still need to optimize to get your listings to show, one can argue PLAs are much more effective than traditional text ads, especially when attempting to advertiser your entire product catalog.

Google Product Listing Ads Example

3. AdWords Desktop Editor

Though not as vital as it was when it was first introduced some eight years ago, the AdWords Desktop Editor paved the way for the next generation of platforms and tools for managing paid search campaigns at scale. Those of you who managed paid search in 2004 or earlier understand how much more difficult it was back then using just the AdWords interface and spreadsheets—plenty of manual toggling between campaigns, and much more time-consuming workflows for creating or editing keywords and ads. When Google introduced the offline desktop editor, it transformed the way search marketers managed and made changes within our search accounts. Now publishers like Bing and Facebook have their own offline desktop editors.

AdWords Editor

2. Sitelinks

Would you like to add multiple, deeper links to your search ads? Yes, please! Though they don’t show up for all keywords, ad sitelinks creates a big incentive for search marketers to get relevant and push ads to the top of the search engine results page. The ability to include additional links within a search ad enables search marketers to not only increase the ads’ real estate, but also provide users with more relevant, deep-linked landing pages. The combination of the two has enabled sitelinks to increase ad CTRs for the keywords they are eligible to show for.

Google Ad Sitelinks Example

1. Quality Score visibility

Finally, the secret formula was revealed! Well, not really. One of the biggest mysteries and challenges for search marketers was understanding the relevancy of our keywords and what exactly determined their competitiveness and cost. Once Google revealed the concept of Quality Score and the variables that influence it, search marketers became obsessed. All management and optimizing strategies from that moment on was predicated around improving Quality Score. Gone is the guess-work in figuring out what keyword, ad, or landing page changes will have the greatest impact. Now we know the factors of relevancy that Google deems most important, and we’re able to better manage and optimize our accounts to improve and maximize long-term performance.

Google Quality Score Breakdown

There you have it, my list of the top 10 biggest paid search changes. Chances are your list, if you choose to create one, will vary from mine. If that’s the case, please feel free to add your thoughts in the comments section below and let me know why you’d rank one change higher than another.