Google Sidebar Ads Are Gone

Google Sidebar Ads Move Up & Down

The placement of Google sidebar ads just changed for desktop PC searches. Text ads are gone for the right-hand sidebar in a desktop search page. February 19, 2016 was the official confirmed date. The top of the fold is gold. Four gold bars to be exact. Only four ads are allowed on the top of the page and none on the side bar, except for product ads. The five or six paid ads that used to display on the right rail of the search engine results page are now gone.

Google sidebar ads

Google hinted over the past few years this may happen. Now it’s reality. Surprise, surprise. And with this sudden change, speculation is now flying as to what it means for Google Adwords and PPC advertising in general. It also raises questions for organic search, too. More ads on the top plus four ads on the bottom mean less space for organic. Less organic SERP page space means organic will find less available page real estate. Some of my industry contacts that run massive PPC campaigns are seeing less impressions yet a drop in their average cost per click. Time will tell if these trends continue.

So what’s a Google guy to do? What does this mean for both organic and paid search? And, what does it mean for you business and its PPC advertising strategy?

Below are some “take home” thoughts to consider:

  • There is now less room for error when running AdWords. Paid search will remain a powerful tool, however more regular and careful bidding will be essential for ads to stay within the top four spots. This applies to both mobile and desktop ads.
  • Google will show four instead of three ads at the top.
  • Ads that are placed at the top must be “high commercial intent” ads. In other words, buy ads. Ads that match a searcher’s high commercial intent to buy. Mere information seeking ads will not make the cut. Buy ad searches will rule.
  • Three ads will be shifted from the side to the bottom of the SERP (Search Engine Results Page), page. Yes, the remaining paid ads will now find bottom not side placement.
  • Total page ads will shrink from eleven to seven. Four on top and three on bottom with zero on the side.
  • However, relevant product listing ads will show on the side.
  • Does this mean less clicks and higher cost per clicks? Not sure yet. It’s too soon to tell but Wordstream is seeing a big uptick in position 3 with click through rates doubling.
  • If your ads end up in position eight through eleven, you’re off the first SERP page. Don’t let that happen.
  • This confirms Google sidebar ads shifted to more of a mobile, single column emphasis. Mobile is growing in all areas and will continue to have an impact on PPC advertising.

Bottom line: Don’t let your Adword’s campaigns run on cruise control. Hiring a trusted PPC professional who understands the need for consistent Adwords management is critical. The concept of pay to play applies to both reach and advertising services. A good Google Adwords ad agency pays for itself because it reduces wasteful ad spend, maximizes ad dollars, and monitors ad placement. That means more ads on the top plus more sales.

If you need help with Google Adwords, feel free to call or write.

By Stuart Atkins

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