No, it’s not just you – Google has removed all right hand side advertisements from their search engine result pages worldwide! Given the importance of Google to businesses across the world, it’s natural to wonder how this might affect your business in the future. Read on to learn how this change might affect your future SEO and PPC campaigns.
This week Google adjusted search results on desktop, removing text advertisements on the right hand side of the page. Instead of this, for ‘high traffic’ terms, Google will now display up to 4 ads above the organic listings (previously 3), and 3 ads at the bottom of the page (previously 2), below the organic listings. This means that the maximum amount of ads on a page at any given time will actually be shrinking from 11 to 7 at most. It’s safe to say over the next few months we can expect to see Google experimenting with what will take up that right hand space instead of the adverts.
But why remove the amount of ads? Surely more ads = more money for Google? Google has apparently “determined that the average click-through rate for right hand side ads is poor”, and they also believe “the expected cost per click inflation from this change is projected to be more profitable in the long run”. It’s easy enough for advertisers to panic at the change. Less advertising space and a potentially higher cost per click is a scary prospect, especially for businesses which rely heavily on Google Adwords for enquiries.
Should I Worry?
Whilst the change has only been live a day or two in the UK, taking a look at our current campaigns shows no major cause for concern at the moment. Our cost per click amounts haven’t seen much fluctuation just yet, and the quantity of clicks has pretty much stayed the same. However, with less ad space to battle over, naturally I’d expect the average cost per click to rise over the next few months, especially for competitive keywords. We’re going to be seeing brands battle it out to stay in that top-of-page position. The guarantee of now having an ad placed above or below the organic search results is certainly nice though. As an unwritten rule smart advertisers were already focusing on their ads appearing in the top 3 positions anyway; side ads were notorious for producing poor conversion rates and significantly worse click-through rates (we’re talking 14x less than banner ads!).
Larger Focus on SEO?
With less advertising space, businesses will find organic space even more precious to come by. Whilst the bump up to 4 ads above the organic listings will take more space, it’s going to be up to SEO to pick up the slack. The importance of naturally appearing on the first page of Google will increase, and the cost of doing so via PPC will be inflated as a result. With this change Google have effectively added a premium to their first page listings. The value of a first page listing increases, whether it’s through SEO or PPC.
What Does This Mean For Me?
Whilst the change is sudden, the effects of this change will take months to properly materialise. It’s important to tailor your marketing campaigns with this in mind. If you’re running a PPC campaign expect your cost per click to increase, but the quality of click-throughs may improve also. Ensure your SEO campaigns are properly tailored towards the correct traffic-bringing key phrases. Avoid trying to rank for a vast array of key terms, and instead prioritise those which are more likely to result in a conversion. Overall – don’t panic, don’t make any rash decisions, and simply be smart about it.