On February 19, 2016, Google confirmed that they are removing pay-per-click (PPC) ads on the right sidebar of the search engine results pages on desktop, resulting in a cleaner design that is similar to the Google mobile experience.
So where will the ads appear?
Instead of having ads both at the top and in the sidebar, up to four text ads will now appear at the top of the search engine results page above the organic results, and three text ads will appear at the bottom of the page.
Are the sidebars permanently removed?
According to Google, Product Listing Ads will occasionally appear in the sidebar. These are ads that show a picture and related product information based on search terms. However, these differ from text ads, which will no longer appear in the sidebar.
What does this mean for advertisers?
Although official data has not yet been released on how the new layout will impact advertisers, there is already some speculation.
One possible scenario posited by experts at The SEM Post is that this change will somewhat reduce the visibility of organic (unpaid) search results, since paid results will take over more of the results page. However, this also means that paid searches will have greater visibility.
Where should I invest my online spending?
Although Google has changed its layout, organic (unpaid) search results will continue to drive valuable visitors to your website. Creating a search engine optimization (SEO) strategy is a wise decision because optimizing your page for organic search is a long-term investment.
Regardless of Google’s new layout change, both aspects of search engine marketing – paid search (pay-per-click ads) and SEO – go hand in hand. The more online tools and channels that you use, the greater your chances of reaching more customers. Therefore, an investment in paid and unpaid search will give you a competitive advantage.
And, take a look at our resources below for further tips on how to gain greater online visibility for your business.