The Impact of Google AdWords removing side listings

Important news confirmed by Google – they have removed the right side ads on their search engine result pages. So what does this mean and what is the impact?

This could be a big deal for businesses that struggle with high CPC’s and poor quality scores. That’s why we want to make sure you understand how this may affect your organisation. The change is making desktop and mobile searches look more similar, the only difference is desktop showing 3-4 ads rather than mobile only showing 2-3. The new layout will now see 3-4 listings at the top of the page followed by organic listings, finished with 3 more adverts at the bottom of the page, meaning the number of ads will shrink from 11 to 7 max.

Side Listings Being Removed

Why has Google removed the ads?

Google studies, tests and analyses results every day without us even noticing. Google confirmed, “We’ve been testing this layout for a long time”, they don’t roll out big changes like this without being fairly confident that ;

  1. It improves user experience
  2. It continues to bring them revenue
  3. It offers better performance for advertisers (even if it reduces the number of advertisers who can benefit)

What ad types are exempt to this change?

  • Product Listing Ad Boxes – these will continue to show either at the top or on the right
  • Ads in the Knowledge Panel (the information about your business) – this will remain on the right side of search

What does this mean for businesses?

The changes also take into account a 4th ad appearing at the top of the listings, this was previously 3. However, this 4th ad will only appear on highly commercial queries such as hotels and insurance.

As Google has been testing this, it has been a fundamental concern for those optimising their SEO for top positions, as top SEO ranking is now even further down the page. It does however increase the importance to appear highly on natural search.

Things to be aware of?

There may be very little impact on your account, no one can yet be sure (even Google) but at Digital Clarity we like to keep on top of things and make sure our clients’ accounts are being looked after. Hence we have been monitoring and analysing any slight changes in performance.

These are some of the possible impacts you may see to your account:

  • Cost Per Clicks could increase – Learn how to keep on top of these changes and avoid competitive bidding wars
  • Average positions and CTR could decrease – This is something we experience at peak times in the year (Black Friday, Xmas, Summer Holidays etc) when business gets competitive
  • Traffic could change – If you are regularly in the top 4 positions it may potentially mean an increase in impressions and clicks, if you appear lower on average this could drop further – Contact us for the best management techniques to keep control
  • SEO top positions become more important than ever – When shopping became big a few years ago we saw our organic listing slide down the page – ensure your SEO strategy is up to scratch

What is the upside?

  • Ecommerce Shopping Ads becoming more prominent
  • If you’re already top 4 – you’re setting the bar, it’s easier to stay up than to crawl up the ranks
  • With fewer ads on page one to distract your potential customers or clients, there is more business for the taking
  • This change gives you the chance to really review your strategy and see what you can improve – are desktop ads currently working for you?

If you would like further information about Google AdWords and how the various changes may impact your business, please contact the team at Digital Clarity.

Rachel Mepham
With over 15 years’ experience in Digital Marketing, Rachel heads up the team at Digital Clarity. With a deep skill set in the Paid Search, Social Media and Analytics, Rachel is regarded by both clients and peers as one of the most experienced and prolific women in the UK digital space. Her approach and application to digital strategy planning has been used by some of the biggest brands as well as leading advertising and marketing agencies.