Google Going Green? A Great Example of Conversion Rate Optimization

Light bulb moment for Google: an easy conversion rate optimization win

On April 12th, 2016, Tweets hit the Twitterverse about Google changing their standard yellow ad icons to green:

According to a June 15th, 2016 Search Engine Land article by Ginny Marvin:

“Official: Google is rolling out green “Ad” label globally. Yellow is out, green is in for text ads in Google search results.”

It’s no secret that Google makes the VAST majority of it’s income via their paid advertising product, Google Adwords (and by vast majority, we’re talking 97%).

According to a recent article on

“Google is on track to make more than $70 Billion in revenue in 2016, and the lion’s share of that number will be generated by its insanely successful advertising business.”

According to an infographic by ClickZ, the most expensive keyword, “best mesothelioma lawyer”, costs a whopping $935.71 per click! The remaining top 5 most expensive legal search phrases are:

  • Dallas truck accident lawyer: CPC=$425.70
  • truck accident lawyer Houston: CPC=$411.04
  • Louisville car accident lawyer: CPC=$393.79
  • Houston 18 wheeler accident lawyer: CPC=$388.84

Here’s a visual breakdown of the top 5 most expensive keywords in the legal sector:

Most expensive legal keywords to bid on in Google AdWords.

So some crazy lawyers are shelling out approximately the cost of the average American’s mortgage payment for a single click? Well considering a mesothelioma settlement is worth over a million dollars, this high cost-per-click starts to make sense.

Since search represents such a massive stream of income for Google, it’s no surprise that the search giant is working on ways to squeeze even more money out of their ad platform. So how are they doing this? It’s called conversion rate optimization, CRO for short.

Conversion rate optimization involves generating more desired actions given the same quantity and quality of traffic. In Google’s case, since they make money every time someone clicks on one of their ads, the desired action for Google is an ad click.

Here’s a GIF from illustrating the difference between the yellow and green labels:

difference between green and yellow ad labels google adwords

So why does this matter? I mean we’re talking about a minor color change, right?

Notice how the green ad label is conveniently the same color as the url to the right of the label. This makes the ad icon blend in more with the ad, making it appear less like an ad and more like an organic search result. The less the paid results look like ads, the higher the click-through rate, meaning more people will click on the ads. In my opinion, this is Google’s (successful) attempt at conversion rate optimization.

Remember that earlier in this article, it stated that Google is on track to make in excess of $70 Billion in 2016? So let’s be conservative and assume that this change increases overall CTR by just .1% (that’s 1 extra click per 1,000 impressions). That’s an extra $70 Million in profit over the course of 2016. That comes out to $5.8 Million per month, $1.3 million per week, and $191,781 per day. And that’s assuming that this change generates just 1 extra click per 1,000 impressions. I think this is being extremely conservative.


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