Have you noticed a sudden change with Google search results lately? The Google SERP (Search Engine Results Page) will no longer show text based PPC (pay per click) on the right side of the page anymore. This is something Google has been testing (some say since 2010) for a while now and it appears to be more consistent since couple weeks ago. It also appears that Google will show total of four paid ads on the top of the page instead of three. Product related search results will continue to show on the right side.
What is the IMPACT?
For marketers, the bid war for ad placements will become more challenging. With lesser space for paid ads the bids will become higher to get top placements because of simple supply and demand situation. The total inventory for ads will shrink and by not having any of the lower bids the average CPC (Cost per click) will increase- at least that’s what it appears to be and until we gather enough data and compare the trends – we cannot confirm. This means same ads for #1 spot will cost higher. The side bar ads obviously used to get less clicks, however first page side bar ads were still resulting some clicks and visibility for smaller budget marketers. Now, with only top placements, it will be more difficult for smaller budget marketers to place the paid ads. In big picture, it doesn’t appear to hurt Google. With the addition of the top placements, total of four paid ads will now serve before any organic results. Which means, these ads will consume most of the paid result clicks at a higher bid, which eventually means more revenue for Google. It shouldn’t’ affect much to the big ad spenders, however does it push away the small business owners even further out for ad placements? Time will tell. By not having a clutter of results (with side bar a total of 11 paid ads vs without side bar most of 7) it should create a better user experience for the consumers-right? It might appear that way, however having more top paid ads, the organic results will get even pushed down further on the top fold of the page. With local, image, news etc. on the SERP, the organic results will be almost unnoticeable. There was a time SEO (Search Engine Optimization) played a big role for overall online marketing, however changes like this with Google SERP, the organic results will become even more irrelevant for consumers.
What is the bottom line?
So, based on the research it appears that the following are the overall changes to the Google search results:
- No more side bar paid search results
- Product related searches will continue to appear on the right panel
- Total of four paid search results on top of the page
- Total of three paid search results on the bottom of the page
As the above unfolds, initial assessment shows that the overall bidding war for paid ads will increase and organic results will become lesser of a factor for the top fold of the SERP. With lower ad placement inventory it will be difficult for smaller budget marketers to bid for paid ads on Google SERP. Many of these are assumptions based on past trends. Only time and more data will tell us exactly how it impacts.