What will be the consequences of Google’s decision to remove all ads from the right hand side of the SERP?
Here’s a quick account of my experience with the move so far.
Since a lot of our clients are either new to having their own website or new to Adwords, or both, we’re in a good position to evaluate how this is going to affect us and really, more importantly, them.
A Startup that I did some work for in 2014 was entitled to Enterprise Ireland mentorship. We had a choice of mentors, each working in a specialist area. Because we were attempting to globally establish our website (which had thousands of pages) we chose the SEO/Digital Marketing mentor. This guy had his own agency in Dublin and had huge experience in getting sites and online businesses from zero to hero. One of his tactics in getting exposure for his clients’ was to make sure they only bid enough on their Adwords campaigns to have a presence on the SERP – the right hand side – and not to incur any clicks or cost from their Adwords marketing.
In his own words “this drives Google crazy”.
According to Larry Kim of Wordstream, ads on the right hand side and bottom of the SERP account for only 14.6% of all adwords campaigns’ Click Through Rate (CTR).
The above stats make one thing very clear – right hand side ads weren’t a big money spinner for Google but they gave advertisers an opportunity for brand awareness at a very low cost.
Of course the ultimate brand awareness on the SERP is appearing high in organic searches – SEO.
Unfortunately, organic search is a definite loser in this new equation. Above the fold, especially in competitive markets where Google will show 4 ads on top of the page, organic search has disappeared.
I spoke to our Google rep about the change last week and he said frankly -”SEO’s loss, Google’s gain”.
But, as Larry Kim and Sully, our genuinely very cool Google rep, have pointed out – the change only affects desktop, not mobile, which these days accounts for approximately 50% of searches.
To be honest I never liked the ads on the right hand side, I always thought that they looked spammy. From this point of view the change will be a good thing – ads will look a lot better because they will be better formatted and include ad extensions and more (which will increase user experience and CTR).
Notwithstanding, I can’t help but think of a client of ours whom I know this will absolutely affect negatively. The business is a one man operation but operates in a highly competitive space. Getting to page one organically is proving very difficult but even getting ads to page one has been a struggle. Up to now, even with a good quality score and a high bid, ads were appearing – guess where? On the right hand side.
This change, in my opinion, will hurt small businesses with limited budgets who operate in competitive spaces – both for organic and paid search.
Product Listing Ads will be appearing on the right, as will the Knowledge Graph – I wonder do Google have anymore in ‘store’?
About the author:
Peter Desmond is all things Digital Marketing for Cork based Web Design and Marketing Agency Wall Web Design.
Contact Peter on 085-1899911 or Peter@wallwebdesign.ie
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