Since, Friday 19 February 2016, Google has removed ads from the right side of its desktop search results, leaving ot oddly blank ,and show’s them at the top and bottom of the SERP. This take by Google was a hot topic in December when it was testing 4 ads at the top of the search results. Though it was a good news for advertiser’s as now they’ll be enjoying 4 ads at the top position and 3 at the bottom, but a hardtime for regular SEOs as organic results was further pushed down the page.
It also leaves more room for Google’s Product Listing Ads to show in the sidebar – they are still being run in the sidebar even with 4 ads above the fold.
Why has Google decided to drop right hand side ads from the search results?
The obvious answer to this question is revenue and also the biggest factor behind this change. Google has intelligently decided to expand the real estate of PPC at the cost of an organic spot. The added PPC spot is believed to be for premium terms now. These terms are highly expensive per click, so it’s up to the vendor to decide whether the top spot is worth it, or he wants to compete for the organic spot. A smart strategy would be to push the organic search and take a lower PPC position. By removing the right-hand ads, Google has focused on paid clicks on the ads that generate the most revenue for that query.
Eliminating side ads has also increased on-page share of voice for paid ads. By incressing the number of paid ads on the first page from three to four, it has pushed the organic results futrher down making more room for ad extensions to show. Which is importand for advertisers to make a presence in paid search in order to drive the same volume of traffic from search engines.
Does this improve or harm the user experience?
Well, this largely depends on the search term entered by the user and the accuracy of Google’s Adwords algorithm vs Organic Algorithm. It also depends on how thougtfully businesses spend their money on ads with detailed and proper targetting. If I think from a non SEO perspective, I feel the new layout would give a better user experience.
What this means for advertisers?
For small sized businesses and advertisers, carrying out smart strategy to appear on the right hand side of the page is no longer possible. You’ll have to be more strategic and will have to move to the banner possition. You will have to reach the right user, at the right time to ensure great ROI.
With four ads on the top banner positions now it has become more eligible for various ad extensions like call out, sitelink, call exrtension, location extension, structured snippets etc to show up.
This change has also made more space for shopping ads on the right hand side of the page. Which a goog news for e-commerce advertisers.