Monthly Archives: February 2016

AdWords Sidebar Ads to be Removed – Now 4 Ads Above the Results

Google recently announced that they will be doing away with the classic AdWords sidebar adverts in the SERPs. On top of this, they also said that instead of 3 ads, there will now be 4 ads showing above the organic results.

This is a major change, as these AdWords sidebar ads have have been around since the year 2000. None the less, this is not a surprise, as Google have been testing this ‘no side-bar ad’ format over the past few months.

Google Chrome Browser as viewed via Macbook Pro 13 inch.
Google Chrome Browser as viewed via Macbook Pro 13 inch. Notice the IKEA listing is the first organic listing on this page, and it only just makes above the fold.

The implications from an SEO perspective are:

  • Highly competitive terms will have 4 ads above the organic results, thus pushing the organic listings further down the page (and likely below the fold on screens below 15inches in size).
  • Potentially less organic traffic from kws with more than 3 AdWords listings.
  • According to some online sources, about 20% of kws searched via google have 4 or more Adwords Advert listings.

From a PPC Perspective:

  • Forces advertisers to bid more aggressively for top 4 positions (no more AdWords sidebar ads)
  • Will result in a drop in CTR, Clicks and a potential increase in CPA for ads with avg pos below 4.
  • Good for e-commerce sites who use Google Shopping.
  • Good for advertisers who’s ads are consistently in pos 4 or above (likely an increased CTR).
  • Advertisers will need to be more diligent about which keywords they increase bids for and which ones they reduce bids for, in order to maintain their CPA targets/goals.

This move was probably made for the following reasons:

  • To increase Google’s revenues and profits (no surprise!)
  • To combat the ever increasing levels of competition for ad space on the search engine.
  • To discourage active SEO practices by devaluing the benefits of organic page 1 listings.

It goes without saying that the removal of the AdWords sidebar ads, and addition of an extra ad above the organic listings, will likely have a negative effect on smaller businesses who don’t have a strong organic foot print or who can’t bid for top 4 positions for their relevant keywords.

We will be keeping a close eye on how this effects all the client accounts we are working on.