4 minutes read

Goodbye, Google Sidebar Ads – What You Need to Know

If you’ve done a Google search on a laptop or desktop in the last few weeks, you’re sure to have noticed a big change. There’s a lot of white space on the right – gone are the sidebar ads and the maps and local listings. Instead, ads, maps and search results are combined in one center column, mirroring the mobile search experience. The removal of the ads follows on the heels of the new local “3 pack” change last August, which reduced local listings from 7 and moved it to the center column.

What impact will this have on local marketing, SEO and search advertising? While the changes are so new the verdict is still out, we’ve gathered insights from a number of experts in order to get an early read.

The Key Changes

Here’s what has changed in this worldwide rollout that happened in mid-February:

  • There are no text ads on the right sideof the search results on desktop.
  • The total number of text ads that will appear on a page shrinks from 11 to a maximum of 7:
    • 4 text ads (up from 3) are in the main area above the organic listings.
    • 3 text ads will show at the bottom of the SERPs.

Here’s what’s not changed:

“PLAs demonstrate strong user interaction when they’re on the right side, so they’re staying put.” – Search Engine Land

What This Means for PPC Advertising

“With the new layout, the top four ads will dominate the above the fold section of almost all searches… Click through rates for these ads should significantly rise, which is great news for conversion focused advertisers who have an appetite for more volume. If, of course, you are in the top few ad slots.” – Ad News

“It seems intuitive that having fewer ads on each SERP is going to make ad positions more competitive. The effect on click prices is yet to be seen.” – Marketing Land

It’s important to enable any extensions possible. “Top ads are eligible to show more extensions, and those same extensions can also show at the bottom of the page. Now that text ads on the right rail are gone, each opportunity you get to display an ad is an opportunity to show a helpful ad extension. Investigate all of them and add any that you might be missing.” – Search Engine Land

What This Means for Search Results

“[The addition of the 4th top ad] combined with the range of different ad extensions available, will push down the organic search results even further. Every extra extension pushes the results down by one line… [In spite of this], it’s actually looking like this change will show an increase in organic traffic for websites that are ranked in the top positions.” – Ad News

Early testing shows that the longer the query, the less likely the SERPs will include either ads or the “local pack.” According to Erin Everhart, Lead Manager, Digital Marketing, SEO at The Home Depot, “The value of long-tail keywords just increased, since those keywords are naturally appearing higher above the fold. Yes, they are searched for less often, but they’re now even more likely to provide higher CTRs in addition to the higher conversion rates they’ve historically come with. The longer the query, the closer a person is to purchase.”

Sales Renewal’s insight:

If you’ve done a Google search on a laptop or desktop in the last few weeks, you’re sure to have noticed a big change. There’s a lot of white space on the right – gone are the sidebar ads and the maps and local listings. Instead, ads, maps and search results are combined in one center column, mirroring the mobile search experience. The removal of the ads follows on the heels of the new local “3 pack” change last August, which reduced local listings from 7 and moved it to the center column.

What impact will this have on local marketing, SEO and search advertising? While the changes are so new the verdict is still out, we’ve gathered insights from a number of experts in order to get an early read.