Say Goodbye to Right Column Ads

February 24th, 2016
Google side ad placement before and after photo

Google made an announcement this week that, effective immediately, Google AdWords ads will be removed from the right-hand side of search results. They will still appear above and below organic search results, but they will not appear on the right column (with the exception of product listings ads, which are more suited for e-commerce websites).

First off, it sounds like Google decided to make this change because statistically the ads on the right-hand side had significantly lower click-through-rates than the ones above and below organic search results. The most qualified (and profitable) clicks occur on the ads above the organic search results. So, losing this ad space isn’t necessarily a bad thing.

However, limited ad space does mean a couple of things:

  • From an AdWords perspective, being in the top 3 ads is more important than ever before.
    In some cases, the three ads above organic search results may expand to 4, depending on how “commercial” the search query is. If Google can make more money displaying ads for a specific keyword search, they are definitely going to do that. This also means the organic search results will be shifted down the page.
  • Cost-Per-Click is likely to go up for most campaigns.
    Because being in the top three ads is the best bet for being viewed, it can be assumed that most competitive advertisers are likely going to begin increasing their bid for keywords that they use. So, in order to be ranked higher, everyone may need to begin bidding higher to acquire these coveted ad spots.Bear in mind, though, that big strategy is not the only contributing factor to how much we pay for clicks. Another factor is “quality score”. Every keyword in a campaign is given a quality score, which is determined by how well the content of the keyword/ad/page content work together. Keep an eye on your quality scores and make sure they’re as high as you can get them.
  • Organic search traffic will be pushed further down the page (if competition deems 4 ads necessary).
    Pushing organic traffic down in search results means that search engine optimization needs to continue being a huge priority. It’ll be easier to be bumped to a lower search results page if your site isn’t optimized.
  • Removing the right-hand side search results makes all Google searches look like mobile searches.
    When using Google on a phone or tablet, the search results don’t have right-hand ads. Everything is moving more mobile and Google is no exception!
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