Google-Search-Results-Page-featuredBy: Catherine Schutten

Google is the in process of removing all AdWords in the right rail section of the search results page.

This Google search results change will decrease the AdWords inventory above the scroll, which may increase the cost for top positions in competitive searches. Google started rolling out the changes to search results pages on February 22, 2016, however, online search marketers noticed changes in the weeks leading up to the rollout.

What changes Google made to its search results pages

Depending on your Google Search, you’ll now be shown up to four ads at the top of search results. The four ads shown at the top of Google Search results pages is an increase from three.

Most noticeably, the right rail will not contain any ads. Based on the search query, Google will include Product Listing Ads or Knowledge Boxes. Google will continue to serve ads at the bottom of search results.

The image below shows you the new Google Search results page with four ads placed above the scroll. Notice how the right rail is now white space.


Google went on record saying:

“We’ve been testing this layout for a long time, so some people might see it on a very small number of commercial queries.

“We’ll continue to make tweaks, but this is designed for highly commercial queries where the layout is able to provide more relevant results for people searching and better performance for advertisers.”

From a design perspective, the new desktop version of Google Search results pages mirrors its mobile counterpart very closely, as you can see in the image below.


For those of you who have been following Google’s move to mobile, the latest Google Search results change comes as no surprise. Following the mobile-friendly local search algorithm change in April 2015 and the reduction to three listings (from seven) in the Map pack in August 2015, a redesign of Google’s Search results page is the next logical step to embracing mobile — and one way to force advertisers to follow suit.

Right rail white space = increased competition for limited inventory

Industry insiders immediately went on record saying that this Google Search results change was done to increase the cost per click of AdWords for the top four placements.

While Google is certainly pushing advertisers to work harder and bid more aggressively for those top placements, the removal of ads from the right rail is more indicative of how Google wants advertisers to spend: on mobile searches.

While change in the online marketing arena is always difficult and many advertising agencies will continue to complain, Google has always been spot on in predicting where the market is moving. It’s no secret that mobile continues to explode and will only continue to grow as technology becomes more affordable. If Google did not lead the way in mobile marketing, they would be ignoring cold hard facts that are backed up by research about the devices consumers are increasingly using.

Advertising agencies that stick their heads in the sand and criticize Google for encouraging advertisers to embrace mobile marketing are doing a disservice to their clients. Instead, these agencies should use this Google Search results change to evaluate how their AdWords campaigns are performing and make the necessary changes needed to get results.

Advertising + marketing = long-term results

One of the best features about advertising is that it provides you with immediate results. You run a PPC ad, someone clicks on it and takes an action with your small business.

To get the immediate results advertising provides, you are paying for a consumer to take an action with your small business. Once your advertising campaign stops, so do the results you are seeing, which is why advertising is used to deliver immediate ROI.

For long-term ROI, online marketing is a great solution for small businesses and sometimes only costs you time. Optimizing your small business’s website for search and mobile, managing your reputation on online ratings and review sites, posting on social media networks and providing your customers with valuable content are all marketing strategies that build over time and won’t stop driving customers to your business simply because you stop a campaign.

Any marketing agency that advises your small business against either online advertising, such as Google AdWords, or online marketing, such as content creation, doesn’t understand how to weave both together to make your dollar go further.

We recommend that small businesses combine online advertising with online marketing to get both immediate and long-term results — and we have the results of thousands of successful clients to back up that claim.

If you are concerned about how the recent Google AdWords search results change impacts your current marketing strategy, I encourage you to reach out to one of our digital marketing consultants who can work with you on a go-forward plan that gets the results you want at an affordable price.

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