Google Removes Right Hand Sidebar Ads

As of today, the 22nd of February 2016 Google has removed the Adwords from the right-hand side of desktop search results. The rumours started last week that this would be the case with some people suggesting this was tested in India for the last couple of months. I would imagine today a lot of people are going to get a shock when they see this as many people believe that ads on the right-hand sidebar convert better. Having recently done some testing this did appear to be the case.

That said over 50% of people are using mobiles and tablets when doing searches and the right-hand sidebar obviously doesn’t appear on mobile devices.

The ads will now be at the top or bottom of any search results and can show up to 4 adverts at the top end of the searches. I have done a local search for ” SEO Glasgow ” and the ads down the right-hand sidebar are now gone and there are 4 ads at the top of the results.

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 09.14.03

At the bottom of any page it will show up to 3 ads, This update has happened as expected on the 22nd of February and will affect all countries using Google. This will now have the desktop user experience similar to that of a mobile device where you only see ads at the top or bottom of any results. They have been trying to make desktop searches as close as they can to mobile results, allegedly this has been tested over the past year.

This white space that’s left on the right-hand side sidebar will be used for product listings and knowledge graphs so some users might not even notice that much of a difference. There is likely to be a big panic from many PPC specialists as this means that ad space has become even more valuable. So the PPC bids are likely to go through the roof and more people are going to have to focus on the organic listings.

Stats do already that 83% of people do not click on paid ads and if you take a look at any analytics account you will see that the biggest proportion of anyone’s web traffic is likely to come from organic search. So more people are likely to focus more on SEO as a result as this change is only likely to make PPC more expensive for the positions they now have available.

On a generic search term like ” Business Cards ” you are likely to see 4 top results and then the Google shopping product listings on the right-hand side  as per the below screenshot.

Screen Shot 2016-02-22 at 09.39.34

I mentioned there will be 4 slots at the top and there will be 3 slots at the bottom, it is debatable whether a huge amount of people are likely to scroll down to the bottom which will mean an increase in the average cost per click as many people will be fighting for the top 4 results now.

There are several ways in which you can look at this, small businesses may not be able to afford the top 4 slots with so many people going for these slots and it would mean that those with deep pockets will win the majority of the space, however it will eliminate a lot of the spammy sites that you see doing PPC using very small budgets.

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Craig Campbell

I am a Glasgow based SEO expert who has been doing SEO for 18 years.

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