Google Search Results Page

Google AdWords Update: So Long Sidebar Text Ads

You may have heard the news, Google has made another change to their Search Results Page (SERP) and this one is a large one. Considering how basic the pages are, it seems tough to make waves, but they have.

So Long Right Side Text Ads

It has now been confirmed that Google has removed side bar text ads from search results pages. That real estate is now going to be filled by Google Knowledge Panels and Product Listing ads.

Google will also increase the number of potential text ads that will show at the top of search results pages to four, and at the bottom to three. They say that four ads will appear at the top for “highly commercial” queries, and they give the example of “hotels in NYC” or “Car Insurance.” This has led many in the industry to speculate that Google is talking about term that are used by people intending to make an immediate purchase.

Additionally, the total number of ads that can now show on a page of search results lowers to a maximum of seven, down from 11, when side bar text ads were shown.

Google Search Results Page
The newly formatted Search Results. The blue area is ads, the pink section is product listing ads, and the yellow area are the natural, or organic results.

So What Does this Mean For Advertisers?

Currently, there is some debate about this. The biggest impact will be for those advertisers that were bidding to a particular position, since the positions have changed, if you were trying to get to the sidebar, you’ll need to adjust your strategy. For others, there’s going to be some time to figure out what happens. Will you have to pay more for clicks? Will it be more competitive (vying for a potential 7 spots versus 11)? You’re going to need to monitor what goes on with your account, and make adjustments as necessary.

Why Did Google Eliminate Right Side Ads?

Google is constantly striving to stay ahead and this change in search results layouts has been in testing since 2010, and was officially adjusted last week. Perhaps with a shift from desktops to tablets and mobile, Google feels this layout is most effective for them. Or, with 7 ad slots on the page instead of 11, they can force more fierce competition and increase bid prices for the top spots. Only Google knows, and no, trying to “Google” that answer doesn’t get any info.

A Quick Recap

  • Google is eliminating ads in the right sidebar of search results pages
  • They will increase the number of potential ads at the top of the page from 3 to 4 on “Highly commercial” queries
  • They will also increase the number of ads at the bottom of the page from 2 to 3
  • Product Listing Ads can be shown on the right side
  • Knowledge Panels will also be shown on the right side
  • The maximum number of ads on the search results page will go from 11 to 7

Keep in mind, this change only affects desktop search results pages.

Digital Caffeine will keep up with what’s going on and let you know your best next steps. In the meantime, keep a close eye on your campaign, making sure that your CPCs don’t go to high and that your not paying too much for conversions.