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.
In this listing, IKEA is the first organic result on this page, but it only just makes above the fold (on a 13″ display).
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.