Google is No Longer Showing Right Side Ads on the Desktop

Google is No Longer Showing Right Side Ads on the Desktop

Google continues to tweak the way it presents search results. This latest change has ramifications for both organic and paid search campaigns.

The Change

Google is removing text ads from the right side of desktop search and placing ads at the top and sometimes bottom of the page. For “highly commercial” search terms, there may be 4 ads instead of 3 at the top of Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs), as shown below.

4 block

Although ads will be removed from the right-side, Product Listing Ads (PLAs) and Knowledge Graph boxes can still appear in this space.

Reasons for The Change

  1. Google has shown that it values mobile search and wants to align the desktop experience with the mobile experience. Since smartphones can only display one column on the screen, no right sidebar ads can appear. By removing the right-side ads from desktop search, the results will be similar between the desktop and mobile screens.
  2. Another speculation for the change is that Google realizes that click-through-rate for right-side ads is poor. New elements such as Knowledge Panels have pressed right-hand ads down the page. The expected cost-per-click (CPC) inflation from focusing on the top of the page is expected to be more profitable in the long run.

What Does this Change Mean for My Business?

  • With 4 paid search ads taking up top of the page real estate, the organic search results may appear “below the fold”, an area that searchers need to scroll down to see. This results in organic space is being even more precious and leads to an increased laser-like focus on SEO.
  • It is possible that click through rates for organic search listings will drop for competitive keywords.
  • The importance of paid listings will increase, as these ads are now more visible on the SERPs.
  • The elimination of right-side ads may drive up the average CPC as competition for the uppermost slots increases.

Things to keep in mind:

  • Google has been testing this strategy since 2010 and it’s obvious that they like the results. This is a well-planned adjustment, and as of February 22, 2016, it has been rolled out to searches worldwide.
  • The consequences of a Google SERP change are difficult to predict and the implications listed above are speculation. Moreover, Google could change the SERPs page layout anytime.
  • The evolution of the search engine results page is constant and Google’s focus remains providing the user with the most relevant search results. Keeping your SEO and PPC strategies oriented to relevancy and quality is a future proof means of staying ahead of the ever changing search engine landscape.

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