Are Google Really Showing Less Ads Now?

Paul Stratford, Creative Director

If you think that Google looks a little emptier than it used to when you do a search but can’t quite put your finger on why, its due to the removal of the ads that ran down the right hand side of each Google search results page. Google have been testing this change for a while but they rolled it out fully a few weeks ago. Now there are four ads at the top of the page and none at all on the right, take a look at this example search to see what we mean:

From now on there will be between two and four ads at the top of the page, none at all on the right hand side and a few at the very bottom of the page. It’s early days but what kind of implications will this new layout have for advertisers?. Let’s start by looking at how the results used to look and the likely effect of the position changes in the new layout.

As we can see from this image of the original search results, before the change, for the term ‘London hotel’, there were two results at the very top of the page and the rest ran down the right hand column:

Now the top two in the right hand column have shifted underneath the top two results and the rest below have either shifted to the bottom of the page or been demoted to page 2.

So its likely that if your ads have an average position lower than number 4 then your clicks will have dropped off almost completely. For the top two there will be little change apart from less competition on the right. The biggest winners from this change will be ads in positions three and four as they will now be right under the top two and attract more clicks. Should you worry about this change and how can you actually take advantage of it?

Taking Advantage Of the Change

First off if your ads were showing in the right column in position 5 or lower then you need to take action because its unlikely you will receive anywhere near the amount of clicks that you did previously. That being said the right column is estimated to have only received 15% of the overall clicks anyway. So what can you do to improve the ranking of your ads?

The most obvious course of action is to raise your bids, this will of course work but its a brute force reaction and is not the most efficient way to react. Google uses keyword and ad Quality Score to determine how much you will pay for each click, and the position your ad will be shown in. A higher Quality Score equates to a high ranking ad but also (crucially) a potentially lower cost per click. To achieve this the ads need a good click through rate and the landing page must be optimised for the target keyword. See our recommendations below:

5 Quick Tips To Improve Your Google Ad Rankings

  • Make sure that your target keyword is in your ad title and also the body of the ad
  • Give the ad a short but compelling call to action to improve the click through rate
  • Check the landing page, ensure its relevant and optimised for the targeted keyword
  • Consider adding an extension like site links, call or a location extension to make your ads stand out and so that they cover more space on the page
  • Increase your bids by small, incremental amounts and track the effects

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