No More Right Sidebar Ads – The Effects

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Big AdWords Shake Up – What Happened

Last month, on the 19th February, Google confirmed that search results pages on desktop will no longer show text ads in the right sidebar.

Before & After

To demonstrate, the below image is how a Google search for ‘solicitor northern ireland’ used to appear:


And this is what appears on Google now when you search for ‘solicitor northern ireland’. Note the ads at the top and bottom, but none on the right side. So much white space where the right sidebar ads were!

solicitor northern ireland - Google Search 2016-03-29 14-44-11

What this Means

Previously, with the Right Sidebar ads in place, Advertisers had 11 Text Ad listing places to compete for in the search results – 3 at the top of the Organic listings and 8 on the right hand side. With the new layout – 11 ad spots had shrunk to 7.  There are now 4 ad spaces at the top of the Organic listings and a further 3 at the bottom of the SERPs (Search Engine Results Pages). On certain searches Product Listing Ads or Knowledge Panels will appear in the Right Sidebar and Google are continuing to test formats in this space.

While this may not mean much to the average Google user – this change was considered huge by AdWords agencies. The main worry was that this would cause increased competition and for costs per click to skyrocket as larger bid companies bid higher, squeezing out smaller advertisers. Now one month on, lots of data has been already been released. We’ve summed this up below.


The Effects – Data So Far

Phew – so far, it’s looking good!

On average, Cost Per Click (CPC) is in fact slightly down and Click Through Rate (CTR) is slightly up. Larry Kim of WordStream collected data from more than two thousand WordStream customers spanning all industries for the time period indicated in these charts below.

The below graph shows CTR gradually rising since the 2nd of March and interestingly according to Kim advertisers in the 3rd spot saw the highest increase in CTR.


And below CPC is shown to be decreasing week on week.



Kim’s research conclusions are echoed across the web by other PPC journals such as PPCAdvisor and Merkle RKG.

Overall it seems to be steady if slightly improved at the top and although advertisers originally in the lower positions before the change – i.e. those in the 8th spot or lower – are now paying slightly more per click to appear, the quality of the space they are paying for has improved and they are seeing a resulting higher CTR.

If you had smart account management and good ad positioning in place before the change then you should be continuing as before, if not slightly better. Clever AdWords management and making effective use of ad extensions (not previously available to all right side ads) helps to keep ahead.

So the big ‘Right Sidebar to Disappear!’ news which rocked the Google AdWords world last month is in fact not as big a shake up as first thought. Google says Relax. We’ll continue to keep an eye on this on our end.

At Search Scientist, as ever,  we will remain vigilant!


Search Scientist AdWords Consultancy

Search Scientist can build your AdWords account for you, if you don’t already have one. We can optimise your current AdWords account to improve your Return On Investment. We provide ongoing AdWords management, to continually optimise and maintain your AdWords advertising for you. We also offer AdWords training.

As a Google Partner we can even give you an AdWords voucher worth up to £120 to help you get started!

Contact us today for more information on AdWords or SEO Consultancy. Email us on or phone us on 028 9068 3790.

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