Last month, Google confirmed they would no longer show ads to the right of its desktop search engine results page (SERP). This means that up to four ads will appear up top, above organic search results, the next three will show up at the bottom, and subsequent ads will appear on the next pages, often only at the bottom.

ppc-old-new-comparison

So clean.

Why did Google remove ads from the right sidebar?

Ads in the right sidebar are statistically low performers and get clicked at a much lower rate compared to ads in the top 3 positions. Moving ads away from the right sidebar will also give Product Listing Ad (PLA) boxes and Knowledge Panel results more prominence.

caramel corn knowledge graph

Who doesn’t love caramel corn??

How does this affect advertisers?

Fewer paid search listings means fewer competitors appearing on the same page. This could mean a potential increase in clicks to ads, especially in the top four positions. Previously, right sidebar ads couldn’t display extensions, but now all ads can, which gives bottom ads the opportunity to also increase their ad real estate.

Some have suggested that decreasing the number of ads shown on a page plus the lower visibility of ad position 5-7 will increase the cost-per-click due to higher competition for a more limited ad space. However, it is still too soon to tell, and the impact will continue to be debated until more data is available.

What are my next steps?

In these next few months, PPC bids will need some extra attention to account for potential click loss and higher competition. To save on cost, take a look at recent search terms that triggered your ad and update your keyword match types and negative keywords to ensure that only the ones that are relevant and generate conversions are bid upon. Pay extra attention to the cost-per-click and average ad rank columns, and use the Ad Preview Tool more frequently to see how your ad compare to others. Since this is a recent change, each campaign will be affected differently, so the best course of action is to monitor them closely and make necessary adjustments.