Last month Google implemented major changes to its page layout by removing right-hand PPC ads from search results. Now, ads will appear solely at the top and bottom of the organic results, leaving the right side of the page blank. There will now be only seven paid ad spaces available (four at the top of the page and three at the bottom) and, as a direct result, digital marketers everywhere are rethinking their paid search strategy.
Why has Google introduced these changes?
Firstly, and arguably most significantly, by removing the right-hand ads from the desktop means that aesthetically all platforms (desktop, tablet and mobile) now match. With mobile search numbers starting to overtake desktop figures it makes sense that Google would want to create an even aesthetic across all platforms, especially one that replicates its most popular device layout.
Secondly, Google chose to remove the right-hand ads as they weren’t ‘working’ anymore. As consumer behaviour evolved it was clear that the obviously sponsored ads weren’t generating as many clicks as paid ads positioned alongside organic results, so it made sense to scrap them.
How is this going to affect pay-per-click strategy?
The following areas should be noted:
1. Fewer Impressions – with less available ad space on the results page there will be a natural decrease in impressions;
2. Competition for keywords – keywords with higher traffic will become extremely competitive and bids will have to be raised;
3. Cost per click will increase – naturally, higher bids will mean paying more -per click; and
4. Better click-through rates – despite the reduction in impressions, the click-through rates will rise as impressions become more effective.
While on the surface this change raised concerns for digital marketers, it seems the new layout will in fact prove beneficial if PPC campaigns are used correctly. The primary aim with the new PPC layout is to get in the top impressions and thus remain above the fold in search results. An understanding of what criteria will help make the top spots is therefore crucial.
In order to gain or retain a high ad rank position you should just keep doing what you’re doing but do it better. Focus on clever and strategic keyword bidding and creating strong content to keep your Google Quality Score as high as possible.
Other considerations to factor in to your plans are that Google has recently announced another mobile algorithm change is imminent, while Instagram is changing its newsfeed algorithm.
Adapting to these ever-changing modifications is just part of the digital marketing game and some might say part of the fun.