Google are known to change their logo in fun, creative ways with their Google Doodles, but major changes to the actual search engine results page (SERP) happens very rarely. That’s why their recent decision to remove ads from the right-hand side of their desktop SERPs is a big change and making waves.
What exactly did they change? They removed ads from the right side of the results pages. By doing so they’ve decreased the maximum amount of ads you can see from eleven all the way down to seven.
What does this mean if you are an advertiser? Fewer clicks for those who advertise on these pages and who are not in one of the top three or four paid positions — and a potential impact on organic traffic for those websites that are in there for the long haul.
Does it impact organic search? How does it influence AdWords advertising? What can business owners such as yourself do about the changes?
Google Searches now
Before this big change, Google search ads used to show up in three places: above, below, and to the right of organic search results.
Now, with the recent changes, they’ve removed one of those three ad locations altogether: the one on the right side of the search engine results page.
In some cases, they also may increase the number of ads that appear above the organic search results from three to four. This only happens for what Google is calling “highly commercial queries,” which is when Google is confident a user’s intention is to make a purchase.
The ads that appear below search organic results will stay put, and aren’t affected by the change. Product Listing Ads (PLAs), though, may still stick around on the right-hand side.
Why Did Google Make This Change?
Removing the right hand side Ads has made the user experience much better when someone completes a search on Google.
By including fewer options, it provides a similar experience between mobile and desktop search. Google had a big algorithm change last year and rewarded mobile friendly websites.
Last Year mobile searches overtook desktop queries. To stay on top of this trend Google builds products mobile first.
The overwhelming majority of paid clicks also come from ads above organic results. By eliminating the right-side ads from the SERP, Google is able to clean up the page without removing a frequently used ad unit.
Will This Impact Organic Results?
Yes, it will although it’s difficult to say how at the moment. While fewer ads could increase organic traffic, a fourth ad above organic results could push results down the page to a point that reduces traffic.
It’s important to remember that this is one of many significant changes to the SERPs in the past few years.
It is worth keeping an eye on this trend. Regardless of the result, the need for great content and a smart keyword strategy is more important than ever.
What Can Business Owners Do About This?
Less ads above the fold mean it’s going to be harder to maintain the same amount of impressions and clicks you’re used to. It could also mean higher Cost-per clicks as bidding wars happen for those coveted top spots. If you are I a very competitive niche and the cost is very high, you may have to change your strategy.
If you want to stay on course through these changes, here’s what you can do.
1) Review how your ads appear in Google’s SERPs.
2) Review your average position in search results for a keyword.
With this change from Google remember you have to have high impressions and click through rate to be up on the first 3 or 4 positions at the top.
3) Increase your average position in search results for relevant keywords.
There are two main ways to increase your average position: increase your bid, or improve your Quality Score. Google determines Ad Rank based on your bid vs. the competition. And your Quality Score, which is based on how relevant your ad and landing page are to the search term that triggered the results. To move up fast, you have to increase your bid and quality score.
The first position may not be the ideal one to in. It may incur high costs and not enough returns. Always use CPA (Cost per Acquisition) as your metric. Focusing on this over Ad position or Click Through Rate will keep your campaigns profitable as you bid for those top spots. Conversion metrics will win over click through rates.
Google is very focused with major changes like this and uses a copious amount of data before taking action. Google has always maintained its main focus is focus on the user above all else.
This brings us to the topic of Organic Search Optimisation. With the right hand Ads gone it is all the more important to have a long term strategy for Search Optimisation. Create useful relevant content that will help your user on your website. Use relevant keywords in your quality content (the words your target market uses to find your service or products). Add fresh content regularly to help your long term strategy.