Google recently decided to reduce the number of paid search ad results that appear on their search pages by removing ads from the right-hand-side of the results page.

Google Removes Right-Hand-Side Ads: What it Means for Marketers and Businesses

Image via Search Engine Watch.

So what are they putting in that now-dead space? How will this affect advertisers going forward? And will it affect your business directly?

Those are the major questions buzzing around the industry. It’s a bit of a scary thought, and it’s already shaking the digital marketing world up a bit.

So let’s examine exactly what’s going on and how it will affect the Google search world, as well as the advertisers who run AdWords campaigns and businesses that rely on the ads for their sales.

What Are Google’s Plans for the Empty Space?

First, let’s talk about Google’s plans for that space and how that will affect advertisers.

Google has decided the right-hand-side of the search engine results page (SERP) will be used for – and already has been in a lot of cases – product listing ads, also known as Google shopping.

Google Removes Right-Hand-Side Ads: What it Means for Marketers and Businesses

This is great news for ecommerce advertisers for two reasons:

  1. Ecommerce website will not be negatively impacted by this change
  2. They actually might end up getting more real estate to advertise on

In my experience, Google shopping is a powerful way to advertise for ecommerce businesses and additional space is an exciting idea.

But How Will this Change Affect Paid Search Ads?

Well, first, Google decided to change the number of ads that will appear on the top of the page: instead of 3, there will now be 4.

Google Removes Right-Hand-Side Ads: What it Means for Marketers and Businesses

Image via Search Engine Land.

This is good news for many advertisers because those top ads get the most attention. In fact, more than 40% of search engine result page clicks take place in the top 3 ad spots, according to WordStream.

However, the reduction of paid search ads will also cause some problems for advertisers: with the reduction in the number of ads, there will be more competition to be on the first page of search results.

More competition means a higher cost-per-click (CPC), which could potentially mean a higher cost per acquisition or lead.

As a result, this can pose an issue in terms of budget: companies that have already set a concrete budget could see their performance in Google worsen, while advertisers may not have enough budget to spend in the newly-competitive area. What’s the solution? Make sure you’re flexible with your budget during this big change.

What Can Advertisers Do to Overcome Competition?

To overcome competitive pricing, we need to think about conversions. Advertisers will have to brainstorm new and unique ways to get their ads in front of the right audiences, draw attention to their ads, and get web visitors to click on them.

In sum, advertisers must get creative: they’ll need to generate more eye-catching ads, as well as more complex and longer-tail keyword variations in their campaigns.

What About Business Owners? What Can They Do?

This change may require more time and effort from business owners, who will have to work hand-in-hand with their web team to ensure that their website is highly optimized for their paid search ads.

It’s simple: the more optimized a website, the higher the conversion rates.

So, a business owner could optimize his or her website by:

  • Making sure that the web pages are clear, concise, and on-topic
  • Ensuring that the landing pages have message match, or that the content and headlines on the pages match the ad copy leading there
  • Working to push people down the sales funnel by highlighting the conversion form and phone number

In addition, businesses should put themselves in their web visitors’ shoes: make sure that the visitor isn’t confused by anything and that the entire ordering or submission form process is completely smooth. Even small things, like forgetting to put a “thank you” page after a visitor fills out the form, looks unprofessional and can confuse the visitor – and potentially cost you sales.

Business owners can easily overcome this by placing a fake order or form submission or having someone who’s never used the website do it for them to provide objective feedback.

What’s the Bottom Line?

If advertisers and business owners are able to increase their conversion rate, this will circumvent the higher cost-per-click (CPC), by resulting in a similar – possibly better – cost-per-acquisition (CPA).

Do You Think this Change Good or Bad?

It depends how you look at it. From an advertiser’s point of view, I just have to get creative and work with my clients to increase their conversion rates. For business owners, they’ll need to dedicate more time and effort to the quality of their websites.

Yet, the beauty of AdWords is that you can optimize your campaigns for desktop or mobile devices. When you consider that many paid search campaigns are optimized for mobile phones, this change may not affect performance because it’s only changing the ad layout on desktop search results.

In sum, there will be an impact – but not as much of an impact as there would have been maybe 5 years ago, before mobile phones became the most-used search devices.

This change will affect everyone’s niche a little differently, and you can’t predict how it will affect you. It’s always important to keep an eye on your campaigns and make sure they’re working the way you want them to. As with all Google updates or changes, as long as you’re willing to adjust your strategy, you’ll get through it. That is, until the next big development is announced.