Big changes coming to Google paid search results

Fewer Ads to Show on Google Search Results Page – No Right Sidebar

Google will remove the right sidebar ads from desktop search results, globally. There is an exception for product listing ads only.

In some cases Google may add a fourth ad to the top results if it is a localized (inferred or explicit) commercial query.

The change in Google search results is big, no two ways about it.

Google shows for ads on top of serpsGoogle showing PLAs

The impact on cost per click and click through rates will be seen quickly, as will impressions.

If you are a position 3 or higher player in adwords, then expect an upward cost pressure. Those who are normally on the right side of the first page will have to make a decision, drop to virtually no impressions or start bidding up the landscape to try to make it to the top three positions. It is one thing to accept lower CTRs while on the right sidebar. Its another to get virtually nothing.

For those who played the right sidebar, they are coming to a crossroads. To continue to be in Adwords with any real volume of clicks, they will have to pay more, perhaps much more. If they are not willing to do that, then one has to question if being in the game at all is worth it. The time it takes to manage a program well has a cost on top of the media spend. Is there enough volume at the bottom of page one, or pages two+ to justify the time? Something to seriously consider.

For those who stay in the game, what is the best next step?
Most companies have a limited budget. With the increase in CPC, this will get tapped out more quickly. Within any program there is an “averaging” that happens. Some clicks are more valuable, others less so, but to get the volume, the managers accept the range and average to the target. PPC manager will have to tighten up and shift to the higher end of that range. This could be more narrowly defining the keywords, dayparting, geography or ad copy. If you are not familiar with the top performing segments of your program, do the analysis asap. You have decisions to make.

Revisit the landing pages.
If you can’t decrease the cost of the click, you need to make the click more valuable. Too many programs become complacent with landing pages. It takes a lot to do it well, so there is an aversion at times to putting in the effort. Use this as an opportunity to refocus on conversion rate optimization. Make each click worth more to your program.

Impact on SEO?
There is also an argument to be made that this move puts an emphasis on organic search results. As users have fewer paid options to click on, will they take the organic into higher consideration? This is something to be watched very carefully. Know where your page one keywords are landing people on your site and monitor them carefully. Really optimize the description tags and titles for ctr. You have an opportunity here, take it.

Google’s decision to change paid search results is going to have a broad impact and be a real pain for some programs. Look at it as an opportunity to focus and leverage more of what works, weed out the borderline stuff and increase the value of each click.

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