Google Discontinues Right Column Ads: What it Means for You

Google’s search engine has been a maker & breaker of businesses, it’s no wonder why most companies take SEO & SEM strategies seriously. The company is now in process of rolling out a change that affects both advertisers and users. Google has now taken the decision to remove the ads on the right side of desktop search results and instead place them on the top and bottom of search engine result pages.

There will be four ads at the top of the page and a maximum of three ads at the bottom of the page.

There will be four ads at the top of the page and a maximum of three ads at the bottom of the page.

Since this announcement was made a few days back, there has been a great deal of speculation on what this ultimately means for businesses, advertisers, and users alike. There are quite a few pros and cons that this new change will bring for those who frequently use Google:

Mobile Friendly

The removal of these ads will make the desktop and mobile search results more similar than they were previously. On a mobile device, Google will show a total of two or three ads at the top of the results page. One of the main pros of this dramatic change is that there will be an improvement in campaigns for many businesses. Since the ads are now shown at the top, advertisers can have a better performance due to CTR. This also gives advertisers the opportunity to focus more on Product Listing Ads. This change is ultimately going to help the position of ads be more accurate and precise.

Enhanced User Experience

Another slightly positive change is that there are now more organic results below the fold which which enables better user experience as the right side ads are now gone. In a typical search engine result, there can be nine blue links and two news stories. This change will also allow searchers to see natural listings primarily rather than a bunch of ads at the top of the search results page.

Balancing Search Marketing

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On the downside, an increase in the cost of campaign ads is expected. This increase in cost will make the balance between SEO and SEM extremely important. Besides this, search engine optimization is likely to get more complicated.

If you rank for a commercially meaningful keyword, you will have to make sure to do everything in your power to make your organic listing stand out from your competitors. This change means that site owners will have to compete against paid ads. In order to not get left behind by the visually attractive and interactive ads, it is essential that one uses meta-tag optimization to keep up with the competition that the ads will bring. As a business owner on Google, having organic results below the fold can be a con. This can ultimately lead to a loss in traffic for your website.

Periodic Refresh?

Google tends to make changes to the search results every year. They do that on purpose as people get use to seeing the same thing, and thus ignore the ads after a time period. Various studies have been done to show; the reason for the changes is for people to get a new search results and subsequent pages which in turn gets clicks through ads as well as organic results.

The speculation about the impact that this change will have on both users and advertisers has caused many to believe that this will be a very competitive year and advertisers will need to strongly invest into AdWords to maintain their traffic levels. By focusing on campaign budgets, positions, impressions, and keyword performance an advertiser on Google can be assured that he or she will be able to keep up with the competition of paid ads.

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  • Patrick O’Doherty

    I believe this AdWords updating is a good thing, but we do have to adapt to the change. Small business cannot afford to compete due to the lower budget, but they had a hard time competing with general commercial searches even before. My advice to my clients is to 1) increase their ad quality scores by writing more relevant ads, and 2) look for more niche/specific keywords to focus on that have less competition. I justify the above a little further in my blog post: