Google has shaken up its search results, ditching its iconic sidebar ads in a move that could raise AdWords prices.
Under the new scheme, Google AdWords will soon display four ads above organic search results, no ads to the right of search results, and three additional ads below search results.
The switch was first reported by The SEM Post with Google later confirming the move.
Traditionally, Google’s ads have been shown all over the page on a desktop screen, a mixture of top, bottom, and right-hand positions, based on the specific query, but this change leaves the sidebar free for Google’s Product Listing Ads.
The Knowledge Panel, which shows business information, will also appear in the right sidebar of desktop search results.
But while the right-hand side ads are being removed for all queries, a fourth (additional) ad will be placed at the top of the page for certain lucrative searches- those for hotels or car insurance, for example.
View an example of the new SERPs below:
Google has confirmed the up-coming change to The SEM Post, saying:
“We’ve been testing this layout for a long time, so some people might see it on a very small number of commercial queries. We’ll continue to make tweaks, but this is designed for highly commercial queries where the layout is able to provide more relevant results for people searching and better performance for advertisers.”
Smaller inventory, higher bid prices
The new scheme also means advertisers will have to pay a premium for the smaller number of available ad slots on search results pages, especially the four spots at the top of search results.
The move could cause outcry from small brands who find themselves priced out of the search ad bidding process.
“Our cost-per-clicks are going to go up because we’re going to bid aggressively to be on the first four,” Shreya Kushari, SVP of search marketing for ad agency DigitasLBi told Re/code.
The new ad experience is set to roll-out out to the desktop soon, and it brings the look more in line with how Google works on mobile devices. The change is global and will affect all languages, according to Google.
“As Google maximises the value of its inventory, it’s looking through the lens of user experience”, explains Danny Meadows-Klue who heads the Digital Training Academy who have been teaching search engine marketing since 2001. “The latest shift will force many brands and agencies to rethink their approach. Those who don’t will find traffic dwindling, and for those who do, expect to see an increase in average costs per click.”