Google has made many fun and exciting changes to its site over the years, but its newest change to the search engine results page (SERP) is making big waves. Google announced that they’re removing text ads from the right-hand side of the search results page. Anytime Google announces a change of this size, panic ensues. Major changes to the sites SERP occur far less often than Google’s usual host of logo changes. However, with the removal of the right-side ads there are some important takeaways for online marketers and advertisers alike.
By removing ads from the right side of the results pages, Google has reduced the maximum amount of ads one can see on any given search query from eleven down to just seven. This means a fewer number of clicks for smaller businesses who advertise on search results pages who may not be able to compete with the businesses in the top few positions.
Before this change, Google would show ads on the top, bottom, and right side of the organic search results. While the amounts of ads that appear below the search results will stay the same, the ads on top may increase from three to four if Google feels confident that the user’s intention is to make a purchase. While right side text ads have been removed, you may still see Product Listing Ads (PLAs) on the right hand side. Since many mobile devices don’t show right hand ads, Google’s new results page helps improve the user experience with a more consistent design across desktop, tablet, and mobile devices.
Matt Lawson, a Google employee and columnist weighed in on Google’s decision. “The majority of our searches happen on mobile these days, which has no right-hand-side ads. Over time, we’ve found that text ads on the right rail were simply less useful than we’d hoped. In direct teams, users didn’t click on ads. When users don’t click on things, we take that to mean that something wasn’t what they were looking for.”
According to SearchEngineLand.com, data shows that many of the concerns of smaller businesses aren’t that big of an issue. Some people have expressed concerns that this change will negatively impact smaller advertisers. According to Google, since the launch of the new layout, small advertisers haven’t seen much of a change in clicks. In addition, based on early experiments and returns from the launch, there have been no appreciable changes in costs-per click. These results exemplify the change’s purpose—to produce more useful results without disrupting advertiser performance.
With fewer ad spaces, this new change may make it harder for some companies to maintain the same amount of impressions and clicks they’re used to, but before you become a part of a CPC bidding war, take a moment to see if those top spots are worth your time at all. First, review how your ads appear in Google’s SERPs. Next, review your average position in search results for a given keyword. To maintain high impressions and clicks on your ads, you’ll need to be within one of the first three or four results, any lower and you may not be seen at all. Finally, use your bid, or improve your quality score to increase your average position in Google’s search results. Your quality score is based on how relevant your ad and landing page are to the search term that triggered the results. To move up fast, increase your bid and quality score.
Making large changes to results pages as a result of changes in search and user behavior can be a lot to stay on top of, but this change shouldn’t make things more difficult for any one party. An honest recommendation for any business is to monitor your reports and see how this change has affected your web traffic. Once you’ve identified these changes, taking some of the actions mentioned above should put you back on the right track.
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