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Google’s Removal of Right Side Ads: What Does It Mean For You?

by Mike Kerlee

Google is a company known for revolutionizing how people search for information and shaping the way we interact with the internet on a daily basis. Everyday millions of people perform Google searches to search for more information on products, to locate service providers or to find the best deals.

As competition for traffic increased over the years, Google wanted to make sure consumers are not only receiving the best user experience, but that they’re shown ads that actually provides a credible solution to their problems.


In order to perfect the search experience, Google has analyzed user trends in an effort to better understand how users are searching for a product or service. They found that a majority of users are performing more mobile searches such as from an iPhone or Android device. In 2015 they used this information to penalize websites that were not optimized for mobile by lowering both the organic rankings of their websites and the quality scores of AdWords ads that directed users to these sites. By discouraging poor mobile experiences, Google has improved the search experience for all of its users.

But they’re not quite done making changes.

So what has Google changed about the Search Engine Results Page (SERP)?

1. They removed right-side ads. In an effort to continue improving the search experience, Google is now moving forward with their Mobile First vision by redefining the look of search on our desktops and tablets. Beginning February 22, Google made a bold move to remove the right-side ads from the SERP. This officially drops the amount of ads shown to users from 11 to 7. This reduction in the number of ads shown changes the PPC landscape for both companies and advertisers.  


2. They restructured ads to look more organic. Google is also structuring the ads to look more like organic search results. They’re achieving this by putting pressure on advertisers to make sure their ads contain site links, location data, phone numbers, call outs and structured snippets.


3. They added an additional Top of Page ad. In addition to more robust advertisements, Google has decided to add an additional top of page ad slot for commercial searches. Commercial Searches are searches more likely to lead to the purchase of a product or service and as a result Google has increased the number of Top of Page ads from three to four.


4. They’re displaying Google Business results below ads. With more robust advertisements, Google now prominently displays Google Business results directly below the ads so that advertisements and Google Business information now make up the entire screen on your desktop and tablet similar to how it would appear on a mobile device.


What are the implications of these changes to the SERP?

Desktop users will mimic mobile users. With these structural and visual changes, we can expect desktop and tablet users to behave similarly to how users act on a mobile device by utilizing ads and business listings more frequently than organic results.


SEO will still matter. Because of these changes, some would say that Search Engine Optimization (SEO) is no longer worth the investment. I totally disagree! Google still takes your website’s SEO into account when evaluating the quality scores of your ads. This is important because studies show that users are much more likely to click on an organic search result over an ad if they have seen the ad in a top ranking position and if the organic results are within the first three rankings.

Ultimately Google is in the business of making money and they do so primarily from advertisements so it makes sense that they put the ads front and center in their SERP.

What does this mean for advertisers and businesses who use AdWords?

In the short term we will see a change in our success metrics. On average, advertisers see a 25% higher Click-Through-Rate (CTR) on mobile ads so we can expect the same trend to evolve into desktop and tablet searches.

Another huge change we will see is a rise in CPC, similar to the way we saw with mobile bids in 2015. Throughout 2015, Google increased pressure on advertisers and businesses to boost mobile bids by as much as 25-30%, driving the cost of mobile bids up substantially.

This means that businesses in highly competitive industries like Home Services, Financial Services and Insurance will be affected the most. It’s common for businesses in these industries to rank below the third slot due to high competition and, as a result, more companies will increase their bids to attempt to rank in a higher slot.

Check out our marketing assessment to see how Google’s changes to the SERP will affect your overall PPC strategy.

How do you combat the effects of Google removing the right-side ads?

Find a way to become more competitive!

If your ads are frequently ranking below the third slot and you are unable to increase your keyword bids, you can expect a drop in impression share and will want to revise your Paid Search strategy to become more competitive.   

You can begin by revising your Paid Search strategy to more effectively reach your target market.

Advertisers and businesses will want to focus more on how their potential customers search for their product or service and, more importantly, where they’re coming from. Having a strong understanding of your target market and their search behavior will allow you to create more targeted ads and a more refined keyword list. With the expected Cost Per Click (CPC) increase, this is more important than ever before.

Advertisers and businesses will also want to look at the effects Google’s 2015 mobile push had on their campaigns and adjust their Desktop and Tablet strategies based on the data they find.

Google wants advertises and business to show highly relevant ads to their users.

There will always be businesses who have large advertising budgets and they typically use a generic approach to reach the largest possible audience. However, the businesses who utilize their available budget in the most strategic ways will ultimately see the greatest ROI.

The use of ad extensions is also important. Make sure that you are utilizing all sensible ad extensions and are adjusting bids to remain competitive while combating the expected CPC increases. We inevitably will see a rise in CPC but over time, these changes will create a more vibrant landscape for advertisers and allow your business to more successfully connect with new users!

If you’re wondering how Google’s new SERP changes will specifically affect your paid search campaigns, or if you need help restructuring your paid tactics to utilize your available budget in the most strategic way possible, sign up for our free marketing assessment by clicking the button below!