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Desktop Google Searches Will No Longer Show Right Side Ads

Right side paid ads are no more! Google has been experimenting with showing four ads on top of search results, and no ads on the right side. Today we learn that right side ads no longer exist.

This recent change to Google may have affected your Adwords strategy! Google has decided to stop showing ads on the right hand side of desktop search results. Instead, all ads will display on the top and bottom of search results. How can this affect your online marketing plan, and what actions do you need to take to prevent your website from being negatively affected? Find out here.

Three to Four Top Ads

The top Adword results for many high-frequency searches will now display four results instead of only the previous three.

During mid-February, less than 20% of top-page ad blocks had four Adword results. As of the end of February, this number increased to almost 40%! Four-ad blocks are now more common than two and three ad blocks combined. There is no denying that this shift in Google results is substantial for any paid search strategy.

Google slowly spent February decreasing and eliminating right side ads. As the right side ads disappeared, top page ads increased. Right-side ads could equal up to 8 results per search, so it is interesting to note that the amount of real estate on search results will decrease- a bold move by Google.

To put things into perspective, the right side ads account for approximately 15% of the clicks on search results. Furthermore, our experience at 360 is that only the top 3 ads on right side deliver results, making that percentage even less in the eyes of an experienced online advertiser.

Your Paid Search Strategy Will Be Affected!

Advanced marketers will explain that the end game was, and continues to be quality score and bidding within windows of opportunities. These opportunities are based on the behaviour of your audience and capturing positions that are normally within the 1.5 – 2.7 range in order to achieve an effective CTR% (Click Through Rate) that represents the responsiveness of your ad campaign.

This change is only affecting desktop users; mobile search (where 50% of searches are made) never displayed right-side ads. We can therefore assume that this will only affect half of the 15% of the search traffic mentioned earlier, so 7.5% in total. But is it the same for everyone?

Here at 360, we have monitored and analyzed the process of switching to four ads since early 2016, and can conclude that this is a move to increase average cost-per-click, since Google is an auction based platform.

How? Less ad real-estate results in even more competition.

The first move by the larger advertisers in every market will be to increase the average CPC by 25% to 30%, in order to secure average positions of 1 to 2.7. This forces the smaller advertisers to surrender those positions and, over time, suspend search phrases that they will no longer show for on page 1. Medium sized advertisers will now need to critically analyze their campaigns and optimize their QS (Quality Score) as a means to leverage their campaign dollars more efficiently.

Will Advertisers be Motivated to Bid High for Bottom-of-the-Page Ads?

Other benefits to paid ads from this change includes the fact that ads will now show extensions, such as call outs and site links. These were excluded from right side ads, and can substantially affect your campaign CTR.

Overall, we are predicting higher impressions on SERP for your paid campaigns as long as the AdWords campaigns are actively managed to compete for visible positions. One last point to consider has to do with automated bidding and campaign management systems. Their logic is based on an algorithm that now needs to be changed; will they adapt to the new world? How will accounts managed by automated bidding systems be affected?

Where does this leave your top-page Cost Per Click campaigns? How will this cause a market-wide fluctuation in price on top-page ads?

Emphasis on Organic Results?

While Adwords is still an integral part to any digital marketing plan, this move by Google emphasises the rising need for organic SEO results.

Common, high traffic searches will now have four Adwords results at the top of Google search results, instead of the previous three. Because more Adword results are likely to now show at the top of Google search results, organic results are being “pushed down”; this will result in an even more competitive playing field for organic results. Having said that, we cannot ignore the quality score variable in the paid ads formula that is directly linked to your SEO. Higher quality scores and relevance from SEO are directly linked to better ad positions and lower CPC.

When searching on desktops for businesses (for example, “hotels in Toronto”), the impact from this recent change is more significant. SEO results are pushed below the fold under the paid ads and map listings, which is why there is a growing need to treat your map listings as part of your overall SEO strategy (something that many SEO providers still don’t fully deliver on).

Your organic SEO game is going to need to be stepped up, and fast!

PLA’s and Knowledge Graphs

While Google is eliminating Adword results from the right hand side, it is important to note that Product Listing Ads (PLAs) and Knowledge Graph Boxes will keep their spot. These two items should remain unaffected.

Why The Change?

With mobile search being such a prominent aspect of Google, Google has put in extra attention to mobile search results in the last few years. Because right-column ads were not available on mobile search results, this shift may be a result of Google attempting to standardize Adword and PCP campaigns on all different devices.

Finally, PLA’s and knowledge graphs have become such an integral part of the right side results that Google may have prioritized them over ads, thus resulting in the elimination of right-side ads.

Your SEO plan does not have to be negatively affected. Consult an online marketing professional at 360 today, by calling (416)-619-7935



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