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Google Eliminates Right-Side PPC Ads — What It Means

March 02, 2016

What you will learn: How PPC and SEO campaigns may be affected by Google’s elimination of right-side PPC ads.

Who should read this article: Marketing leadership.

Right-Side PPC Ads on Google Are a Thing of the Past

In February, Google confirmed it is eliminating right-side PPC ads from its SERPs (search engine results pages) — and instead displaying up to four ads at the top of the page.

While the change in the appearance of the SERP layout may be startling, we don’t see the new format as being a major disruption to PPC campaigns at this time. If anything, it is a positive. Consider:

  • Most PPC click volume (about 85 percent) already came from ads at the top.
  • Ads at the bottom of the page will still display.
  • The formatting changes only affect desktop search, which accounts for less than half of total searches.
  • More room for ads at the top gives advertisers more opportunity to use ad extensions (extra information that improves click-through rates).

One budget implication: The change will likely lead to an inflation in cost per clicks over time, as a result of advertisers attempting to stay in the top four positions.

How Will the New Ad Formatting Affect SEO?

A more challenging issue is how the new ad format will affect SEO. The new format pushes organic results down the page, making top positioning more important and harder to achieve. This may lead companies to invest more heavily in SEO, and also develop a more refined strategy.

Then again, as Google loads the top of the page with ads, users with a preference for organic results may simply tune out these ads and condition themselves to think of old pages 1-3 as the new page 1.

User behavior is always unpredictable. With time and careful review of PPC and SEO lead tracking data over the coming months, we will be able to better judge the actual impact and make the necessary adjustments to PPC and SEO campaigns.

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