Biggest change in Adwords in 10 Years

Google Adwords

At first Google’s Ads only appeared on the right of the search results page. Then up to 3 were introduced at the top, while the rest remained firmly routed on the right. Well, this week Google said farewell to the right column altogether and made it known that in competitive industries we could be seeing up to 4 ads at the top and 3 ads ad the bottom of the search results pages.

This means that for all desktop search results pages, there will be a maximum of 7 ads on Page 1, with most searches only bringing up 6 ads. That’s a lot of ad real estate that has disappeared.

The screenshot below is an example of a search result on 5 February 2016. Note the ads on the right.

Search Result on 5 February 2016

Below is a screenshot of the exact same search done on 23 Feb 2016. Note the blank white space on the right where ads used to show.

Search Result on 23 February 2016

How Will Google Adwords Changes Affect Advertisers?

The fact is that the lower down a result is on Page 1, the lower the Click Through Rate (CTR) and the fewer clicks it tends to get. This is true for both paid and organic results, and pretty much every SERP heatmap we have ever seen bears this out. If you are not on Page 1, you may as well be invisible. Different studies have different figures, but you can pretty much bet that a minimum of 75% of people don’t go past Page 1.

So if more people click on results higher up Page 1, then depending on whether Google is showing 3 or 4 ads at the top, moving Ads 4 to 6 down or 5 to 7 down to the bottom of the page pretty much guarantees their CTR will fall dramatically.

How To Mitigate The Effects Of The Invisible Right Rail

  • Bidding:Your bidding may need to get more aggressive. If your ads are sitting at an average position of anything less than 3, then very often they are going to be showing at the bottom of the first page. If your average position is 7, then you may no longer even be on Page 1. This means you are effectively invisible. Positions 1-3 are now even more valuable, and you will need to bid accordingly.
  • Quality Score is always important, but now even more so. Increasing your bid can only improve your ad position by so much. It’s time to dump poor QS keywords, check your landing page content for keyword density and write some better ads.
  • Ad Extensions: We know that Google also takes into account Ad Extensions when determining Ad Rank, so if you don’t have extensions enabled on your account, it’s time to start. At minimum you should have sitelink, call and callout extensions enabled.
  • Conversion Optimizer: Do you have Conversion Optimizer enabled on your account? Don’t rely on it entirely. Keeping a close eye on your campaign’s performance will be key over the next few weeks because if 4th position now means you’re below the organic search results, as opposed to top right hand side, you could be in for a substantial dip in traffic.

Needless to say, our Adwords Team is checking each account really carefully at the moment. Maybe make a call to your Adwords Agency and ask them what they are doing to look after your account during this time? If they don’t seem to know what you are talking about, and you have reason to be concerned about the performance of your Adwords campaign. Give us a call, or book a free consultation and let’s take a look.


What do you think? Let us know!