Google is notorious for the continuous changes they make to their search engine algorithms and how search results are displayed. Yet again, another change has now been announced.
On February 19, Google confirmed that text ads in the right sidebar will no longer be displayed on desktop search results pages. Now, ads will only be shown at the top and/or bottom of the search results page.
What should you expect to see? For many searches, there will be three ads in the area above the organic listings and another three ads at the bottom of the page. However, Google has indicated that they will often display four ads for searches that they consider to be “highly commercial queries.” Now you are probably wondering, what exactly are “highly commercial queries” according to Google? Essentially, these are search terms where there seems to be an intent to purchase. A few examples would be “hotels in Charlotte” or “auto insurance.”
As with most things, there are a couple exceptions to this new rule. Product Listing Ad boxes and ads in the Knowledge Panel (which offers detailed information about businesses) will still be shown on the right side of desktop search results.
Now that the change has been explained, let’s go over a few main takeaways that you should keep in mind.
- We are still unsure if this will cause CPCs to increase. Because of supply and demand, some industry professionals are predicting that prices will go up since there are fewer ads on the page (the maximum number of text ads shown will go from 11 to 7). Conversely, advertisers may not be willing to pay the same prices for ads showing up at the bottom of the page as they were for ads on the right side of the page. Only time will tell on this matter.
- Google is constantly making changes. This change started after a test was completed back in 2010, and Google has been tweaking it since then. With the search results changing all of the time, you might as well go ahead and embrace it.
- Use this as your chance to guide the searcher. The removal of right side ads results in less clutter for searchers to sort through. If you are what the searcher is looking for and you already have a strong organic presence in the search engine results, it should be even easier for searchers to find you now.