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.
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.