Google Search Results: Right-Hand Text Ads Are No More

February 22, 2016

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Google has confirmed that starting on 2/22/16, Adwords ads will no longer appear on the right hand side of its search results pages. For certain “highly commercial” (read: highly lucrative) searches, they may increase the number of ads showing above search results from 3 to 4.This change is the result of a long running test where Google experimented with just four ads above search results for mortgage-specific searches, eliminating ads on the right hand side.

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So, ads will no longer appear on the right hand side, with two notable exceptions:

– Product Listing Ads (PLAs)

– Knowledge Graph Ads

So what does this mean for us as users and marketers?

As users, nothing really changes other than possibly seeing 4 ads instead of 3 above search results for high-competition searches. You also may have started noticing more Product Listing Ads and Knowledge Graphs showing up on the right side, so those will continue appearing with ads and promotions when appropriate.

As marketers, it gets a little more interesting.We suspect that the primary reason for this change is that average CTRs for ads on the right hand side was deemed too low, and the expected CPC increase will be more profitable for Google in the long run while also improving the overall user experience.

Removing text ads from the right hand side of the page eliminates up to 8 text ad slots from the right side of the first page, so organic search and SEO will become even more important than it already is. For Paid Search, we will benefit from the additional ad at the top of the page, but with so fewer ads we will almost certainly see higher CPCs across the board, but especially for high-competition search terms. The hope is that having less ads on the page will improve CTRs for the 3 or 4 ads that do show up, but we expect that this will make the top first or second position all the more crucial for paid search advertisers.

Tweet us @Norbella and let us know what you think of these changes for either the user or marketer experience, and if you’ve started to see some of these changes in your Google searches!