From the blog

Google kills right hand ads. Was it a crime?

  • Digital Marketing
  • SEM

01 Apr 2016

Last month, Google decided to remove right sidebar ads from desktop search results with some digital advertisers predicting a fairly grim aftermath. Many thought the change could be chalked up to Google’s shifting from their ‘do no evil’ to ‘do the right thing’ philosophy, while others wondered if they have greater plans for world domination in mind? Regardless of the different conspiracy theories, most people want to know, was it actually a blessing in disguise?

Anatomy of the Crime

First and most obviously, there are no more ads on the right hand column of Google search engine results pages (SERPs). In place of this, Google has extended the real estate at the top of the page to four ads instead of three. Not only that, Google has also opened up an additional three ad positions at the bottom of the SERPs.

In total, the maximum number of ads shown on any give SERP has gone down from eleven to seven. However, there is no guarantee Google will show ads in all 7 positions.

The Predictions

Popular opinion is not always a great indicator on what will happen. Many industry insiders were predicting that, due to the law of supply and demand, average cost-per clicks (CPCs) would increase significantly making it more expensive to generate leads and sales than it had been previously.

Further to this was the more troubling theory that small-medium businesses (SMEs) would be the biggest loser from the change. A common strategy for SMEs was to target ad positions 8-11 because they were cheaper and less competitive while still yielding results similar to those in ad positions 1-3.

So did the search apocalypse arrive or do we just need to adjust our plans?

The Results

Contrary to popular opinion the world did not end. Most metrics have balanced out for advertisers with traffic and CPCs staying steady. It also appears that for most lower-ranked advertisers impressions are indeed down and CPCs are up, but click-through-rates are also up and average position on the SERP is higher.

The Verdict

Overall advertisers are losing saturation in Google SERPs but, in turn, are receiving better quality ad placements. In other words, advertisers are being less present yet more relevant. This indicates that Google is adjusting the SERPs to better reflect their policy of delivering the more relevant results of higher quality for users.

It is important to keep in mind that it’s only been about a month since Google made the change and everyone’s data will differ, but with all things considered at this early stage, it appears that no actual crime committed and Google appears to be doing the right thing by both advertisers and users alike.

As with all things Google-related, the only thing we can predict with certainty is change. But rest assured we will watchful eye on the results to let you know if Google are doing the right thing or getting ready to drop some evil on advertisers.

If you want to make sure that you are doing the right thing on Google, contact us online or call our office on 08 9200 4429.

Image of Google HQ by Maglara /