Google Removing Ads from Right Side of Search Results

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In the world of search marketing we often joke among ourselves that it’s a new job every Monday. Well thank you, Google, for shaking things up again with the latest announcement that they are removing ads from the right side of the Google search results page.

On Friday, Search Engine Land disclosed: “Google is rolling out a dramatic change that removes ads from the right side of its desktop search results, and places ads only at the top and/or bottom of the page. At the same time, the company says it may show an additional ad — four, not three — above the search results for what it calls ‘highly commercial queries.’”

According to our sources, the change should be completely rolled out and permanent by today, February 22nd. Needless to say, this was the hot topic of our Monday staff meeting, and predictions for what this means to our agency and our clients began!

Here’s what we think about the latest Google shake up here at Red212:

Why did they did it (let conspiracy theories begin):

  • In 2015, Google announced that more than half of it’s search queries were from a mobile device. Could Google simply be conceding to the fact that most users are mobile, and therefore, even desktop experiences should mirror the mobile experience?
  • Google has stated that the click-through rate on right-side ads is low. They’ve noted for a long time that 20% of search traffic clicks the ads on the side of the page, and some reports have shown this even as low as only 6%. As a business decision, we get it: place the revenue-generating ads where users are more likely to click.

What this means for you:

  • There’s only so much real estate on the page. If paid ads are going to push down organic listings, it may become more of a challenge to rank organically on the first page.
  • Cost-per-click could go up, meaning your entire budget could significantly increase. If side ads are no longer an option, the other space just got even more competitive!
  • If you’re a small business or have a limited budget, your money might be better spent where it can be targeted to a more specific audience that is closer to the conversion. Facebook ads are looking pretty good right now aren’t they?
  • Your SEO program should be running like a well-oiled machine, fueled by a stellar content strategy with interesting, engaging content. To win in that even more competitive organic search result space, you will need to produce the quality content that gets you to page one.
  • If you sell products and list them via AdWords, you still get that real estate on the right side of the page. PLA’s (product listing ads) are an exception to the new rule. So e-commerce sites, breathe a sigh of relief. You’re safe!

At Red212, we make it our business to stay on top of this stuff so that you don’t have to. We’re here to guide you through the changes as they happen. Our best advice – don’t panic yet! Even though the rumor on the digital streets is that this change will roll out completely today, we still don’t see the change yet. Give this time to let the dust settle – Google might still have a couple tricks up their sleeve. It’s always a good idea to wait to see how things shake out before you dump more money into AdWords or shut down your site because you think SEO is dead. Always be creating amazing content that speaks to your audience, and watch your analytics. Even if traffic starts to tank, or your cost per click starts to skyrocket, a solid content strategy will always deliver results. Stick to that, and your marketing won’t fail you.