We all know that Google like to change things every once in a while. In September, they switched to a new, friendlier logo, and now they’ve announced a pretty major change to how their Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) are laid out – with fewer ads.
If you’re a Google user – and who isn’t these days? – this could be a good thing. The interface is cleaner and less cluttered. However, if you advertise with AdWords, the change could have implications for how you manage your campaigns.
The old search results had up to 11 spots for text ads, with three above the search results, a sidebar on the right of the page, and more below. The new results only have six or seven ads on each page – three or four at the top and three at the bottom. Most of the time, there’s no sidebar at all.
Here's an example of the new design. You’ll notice that it’s not that obvious which results are ads and which are organic results anymore. Almost makes you wonder if that’s what Google had in mind…
This change is being rolled out to desktop searches all over the world. Some searches have three ads at the top of the page, but for 'highly commercial queries' where people are clearly intending to make a purchase, there are four.
The only time you’ll see ads on the right now is with Product Listing Ads or within the knowledge panel.
What Does this Mean for My Ads?
This change was only announced on 19th February, so it’s early days. But there are some predictions we can make.
Google Ads work on an auction system. Advertisers who are willing to pay more for a click and have a high quality account are more likely to have their ads show at the top of the page. It used to be that you could get a fair amount of visibility by having your ads on the right of the page, but that’s no longer an option.
If your ads aren’t at the top, they’re at the bottom, and less likely to be noticed by potential customers. You might see lower click through rates and fewer conversions than before if you’re in position five or lower.
This probably means there will be more competition for the top spots. If your strategy involves being right up there, you might end up paying a little more for a click.
On the other hand, if the search you’re interested in is one with four results at the top, that means competition for those spaces could actually go down. It used to be there were never more than three ads above the organic results.
Either way, it’s important to keep an eye on your bids and ad positions over the next few weeks.
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