Last month, Google finally said goodbye to pay-per-click ads appearing on the right hand side of the search engine results page, effectively killing them off in their entirety for the foreseeable future. In their place, a fourth sponsored Ad has been placed at the top of the search listings which, in turn, replaces the frontrunner in the organic results. Even worse news for SEO champions is the fact that there will also be up to 3 pay-per-click ads appearing at the bottom of page one instead of on the side panel, which could mean some page one listings contain no organic search listings whatsoever!
Even if you are at the top of the natural search results and still featured on the first page, with the new position four ad in place, the chances are that your website will not be visible until your potential traffic scrolls down the page a considerable amount and with the position four ad looking a lot more like an organic result than the top three, customers who typically avoid sponsored ads could still give your website a miss by a wide margin.
Of course, the main reasoning behind this new implementation is obviously income related on Google’s part, although it also brings desktop search results more in line with mobile results which typically dispense with the right-hand side ads for screen width purposes. However, according to Google, the placement of 4 ads at the top of the search engine results should only affect a percentage of the most highly competitive search queries; basically, those that earn the most money.
“We’ve been testing this layout for a long time, so some people might see it on a very small number of commercial queries,” Google told Search Engine Land. “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.”
Who Will Benefit The Most From The New Ad Layout?
Judging by the huge amount of discussions on various online marketing websites and internet advertising forums, the biggest winner is going to be those who invest in the new position 4 ads, with increases on click-through rates on the fourth listing from the top shooting up by anywhere between 400% to 1000%. Those with position four ads are also able to take advantage of ad extensions, which means that their listing can have more of an impact on potential traffic with extras such as product images, online maps and contact information, attracting even more visitors.
Who Will Lose Out?
Unfortunately, the main businesses and organizations to lose out with the new PPC advertising layout are going to be those that, up until now, have relied exclusively on SEO for their website traffic. The new changes mean that they are now going to have to work even harder to stand out from the crowd and that they will also need to think about investing in pay-per-click ads themselves. Of course, many SEO companies also offer PPC services so if you already have a well implemented SEO marketing strategy then maybe this is the right time to think about asking your current SEO provider about bolstering your campaign with a professionally managed cost-per-click advertising package.