Google have recently announced that they will be doing away with the classic AdWords sidebar adverts in the SERPs. They also stated that instead of 3 ads, there will now be 4 ads showing above the organic results instead.
This is a significant change, as these AdWords sidebar ads have had been present since 2000. Nonetheless, this is not a surprise, as Google have been testing the ‘no sidebar ad’ format over the past few months.
Some 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 potentially below the fold on smaller screens).
- Potentially less organic traffic from keywords with more than 3 AdWords listings.
- According to some online sources, about 20% of keywords searched via google have 4 or more Adwords Advert listings.
From a PPC Perspective:
- May force advertisers to bid more aggressively for the top 4 positions (due to no more AdWords sidebar ads)
- Will result in a decrease in CTR, Clicks and a potential increase in CPA for ads with Avg Pos below 4.
- Good for e-commerce sites who utilise Google Shopping.
- Good for advertisers who’s ads are consistently positioned 4 or above (likely an increased CTR).
- Advertisers may need to be more diligent about which keywords they increase bids for and which ones they reduce bids for, to maintain CPA targets/goals.
This move was possibly made for the following reasons:
- Increase Google’s revenues and profits (no surprise there!)
- Tackle the ever increasing levels of competition for ad space on the search engine.
- Discourage some active SEO practices by devaluing the benefits of 1st-page organic listings.
It goes without saying that the removal of the AdWords sidebar ads, and the addition of an extra ad above organic listings, will likely have a negative effect on some small businesses who don’t have a strong organic footprint or who can’t bid for top 4 positions for their relevant keywords.