How the removal of right-side ad placements will affect paid and organic search.
In the past magical world of Google AdWords, when a user performed a search they could be hit with 11 different ads on the search engine results page (SERP). Now, you’ll only see seven. Ads used to show up in three places on the SERP: above the search results, below the search results, and to the right of search results. With the removal of the right hand side ads, there may be fewer clicks for people who advertise on pages that aren’t in the top three or four paid positions while impacting competitive auction organic traffic.
It’s important to note that this change is one of many for SERPs in the past few years. The Featured Snippet (text shown in some SERPs when a question-based query is entered to display content from a page one-ranked result that directly answers the question) and Knowledge Graph results have continued to add more distractions from the links that represent organic results.
Here’s what Google’s SERP used to look like with the right-side ads:
And here’s what it looks like now:
Google made this move for a couple of reasons; most importantly a much simpler user experience when searching. By cleaning up the space around the search results, Google is providing fewer options to users who get a more cohesive all-around experience from mobile to tablet to desktop. To those of us familiar with Google’s algorithm change from last year, we know the synchronicity of mobile to desktop experiences has been on the top of their minds for quite some time.
With the majority of paid clicks coming from the ads shown above the organic results, Google was able to clean up the user experience without removing the most popular ad unit. And with mobile search surpassing desktop search for the first time last year, creating a cohesive experience across all platforms is important.
What does it mean for organic traffic?
While the ads appearing below search results aren’t changing, there may be instances where the ads above organic search results will. In cases that Google considers “highly commercial queries” where they are confident in the user’s intent to purchase, Google increases the number of ads that appear above the organic search results from three to four. The addition of a fourth ad will push results down the first page or even to the second page. Considering the further down a result appears on the SERP the lower the CTR it receives, we can assume traffic will go down.
What can we do about these changes in our Paid Search Campaigns?
- Look at how your ad appears in SERPs
Preview your new Google search campaign results in the Ad Preview and Diagnosis tab under the Tools tab. Review how your ad is being shown by location, device, language or domain. If your ad isn’t the highest quality it can be from anyone of those views, pop into your account and make some ad tweaks.
- Check out your average positions for a specific keyword
We could see higher CPCs as bidding intensifies to achieve top spots, so it may be more difficult to maintain the same number of impressions and clicks. If your budget won’t allow for specific keywords to hit the top 1-4 positions (you can view your ad’s position in the “Average Position” metric in the Keywords tab) you may want to re-evaluate if those keywords are worth your efforts.
- Up your average position for relevant keywords
If you want to move up in the rankings quickly, either increase your budget or improve your Quality Score. Remember, your Ad Rank is not based on your bidding alone, rather your bid vs. the competition and your Quality Score (how relevant your ad/landing page is compared to the queried search term). Keep in mind, if you bid too high the resulting clicks could end up costing you more money but bringing in less profit. For conversion over clicks, use Cost per Acquisition or Conversion as your metric rather than CTR or position to keep your ads profitable while bidding for top positions.
Google’s main focus is always on the user to provide them with the most relevant content in the most streamlined way. As marketers, we want this too. While ensuring our ads are showing and ranking properly is important, with these changes it’s more important that we’re optimizing for top organic content as well. If organic search results are getting bumped lower, you want to ensure you’re staying in the top spot and in front of your potential customer.by