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No More Right-Hand Paid Ads: The Implications of Google’s Latest SERP Update

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    Updated: Mar 04, 2016

    Previously reported by Search Engine Land, the majority of ads appearing on the right will either be changed or will go away completely.  Additionally, new elements from the last few years such as paid shipping blocks and Knowledge Panels appeared, pushing right-hand ads farther down the page. Google is a company that is constantly evolving, and this is yet another change that some may fear, and others will embrace.

    Here are the key takeaways:

    • Maximum # of paid ads on a results page shrinks from 11 to 7
    • Up to 4 paid ads will appear at the top of the results
    • Up to 3 paid ads will appear at the bottom of the results
    • Only Shopping and Knowledge Graph ads may appear on the right (for now)
    • Organic results are being pushed further down the page

    Who will benefit from the change?
    This update will impact highly commercial queries the most. Highly commercial queries are the search requests where people have every intention to make a product purchase or a commitment to a service. Previously, the query ‘buy nike shoes’ had three paid ads on the top and no ad block on the right. In previous iterations, Google did not have the word “Ad” next to ads, there would be a colored box around the paid ads or the text would be slightly larger.

    Old Google SERP

    Now there are four ads as well as the ad block on the right where additional ads used to live.

    New Google SERP

    Who could be potentially hurt from this update?

    The update will have the biggest impact on those competing for high demand keywords. The number of ads will be reduced from 11 to a maximum of seven and the majority of the results will be in the high-value positions.

    The change to Cost-per-Click (CPC) is not yet determined. There is a chance that CPC will rise over a long term period. In the short term, if you’re not active in your paid campaigns or you aren’t catering your strategy with long-tail keywords, there is a chance your CPC will increase. The increase may also take effect if you didn’t have good ROI prior to this recent update.

    Why did Google make this change?
    With the advent of more search happening on mobile platforms, and that mobile does not support ads in the right column, one could say that Google is making an attempt to unify the search experience across all devices.  The Media Image indicates that “Google has determined the average click-through-rate for Right Hand Ads is poor across verticals and the expected CPC inflation from the major change is projected to [be] more profitable in the long run. Google is known to update both its algorithms and how results are displayed regularly. This change including other upcoming changes should not be derided, but looked at as more opportunity to be innovative with PPC campaigns and organic search practices.“ Ads on the right hand side actually only accounted for about 14% of all clicks on the page.

    FourFront is monitoring these changes and how they will affect search across the board. Check the blog or subscribe to our newsletter for up-to-date information on this, and other updates that may affect your business.

    Have more questions about Google’s Paid Ad update? Give us a call or contact us today.

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