15 March 2016


Saying Goodbye to Google’s Right Hand Side Ads

You must have heard by now, Google is at it again. Once again Google put the search industry into a spin with its latest update to the search results page. Google is constantly trying new things, different layouts and displays for its Search Engine Results Page (SERP).

A few weeks ago, Google decided to remove all its ads from the right hand side of the search results page. They have confirmed they will now display up to four adverts above organic results, up from three before, and a further three adverts at the foot of the organic listings, previously being two.

Why did Google make this move?

Google have announced this change to help improve user experience on Google Search and to make that experience consistent across desktop, tablet and mobile. If you think about it, majority of searches take place on smartphones, which have no right-hand-side ads! So makes sense.

Another suggestion has prompted that the right hand ads received a low click through rate (CTR) and therefore there was no reason to keep them.

Google concluded after much experience on mobile, and extensive testing on desktop, that the change would benefit their consumers who increasingly search across devices. And the continuous testing has accumulated lots of data about how the change impacts ad performance.

The Impact

Of course, as with anything there will be an impact, but how does it affect you?

So what does this mean for you?

With the removal of the ads from the right hand side and the changes in the number of ads in the organic results now means that before advertisers were competing for about 11 ad spaces, and now you are only competing for about 7 spaces! That’s a decrease of more than 36%! That is a large amount considering how useful that space was.

Top four

This is probably the most anticipated change. Logically speaking, because the above-the-fold ad placements have been halved in number, the remaining placements will see an increase in price to compensate. This in turn could have a significant impact on how campaigns are carried out – since many of you have a set budget and most of the ads resting above the organic results could be out of reach.

How does this impact Pay Per Click (PPC) Campaigns?

Now with fewer spaces available, impression levels will decline, and it is expected that keywords with higher traffic to become more competitive as brands will now invest in making sure they appear in the top spots. Although impressions and traffic may decline, clicks and overall CTRs may increase as ads on the top of paid results have significantly received higher CTR than ads on the right and competitors know that they need to be in the top three/four positions to be eligible to be seen above fold. This could potentially affect volume or traffic, media spend, conversion and ROI.

Organic Search and SEO

This is an interesting one, because it could go either way. Google have said that organic traffic will not be affected, but when you think about organic results getting pushed lower and in some cases below the fold, there is a relatively good chance this will be the case. Previous data has shown that the lower a result is on the SERP; the few clicks it gets. On the plus side, there will be less organic results available higher up the page, which could put a premium on strong SEO since businesses will want to be sure they occupy those limited spots.

Therefore, in order to be seen organically, it is important to ensure you select the most relevant keywords for your brand, as it is just as vital you ensure yours sites Meta Data is optimised towards those keywords.

With all these changes developing, I am excited to see how this empty space is filled. As in my previous blog post about ‘Tweeting for Success’ it would be ideal to see some real-time content such as social media feeds, rich media texts and so forth. We will be keeping a close eye on the impact this has, so keep your eyes open for part 2.

If you are feeling slightly worried after reading this, and not sure what steps you need to take next, worry not, our friendly team of advisors at FDC Leicester know exactly what to do. Our experienced team of SEO specialists will be keeping a close eye on these changes to ensure we are on top of any changes by Google so give us a call now on 01164 244 244 to find out how we can help you.

After all we are Google Partners and we have our clients' best interests at heart!

Saying Goodbye to Google’s Right Hand Side Ads


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