Google has decided to remove the pay per click (PPC) ads from the side of the search engine results page.

What does the removal of side ads on Google search mean for your small business?

You may have also noticed that it has increased the amount of ads at the top of the page from three to four. Since the change, there has been a lot of speculation on how this will affect businesses and marketers. We explore some of the key questions and what the key changes are.

The changes

– Ads on the right side of the page have been removed.
– Instead of three ads, they can now be four displayed at the top of a search results page.
– There will be three text ads displayed at the bottom of a search results page.

When all four ads are showing on a results page, the organic results will be pushed down below the page fold.

Even though Google have been testing this feature since 2006, they only stepped it up towards the end of 2015. February 18th was the day that they made the change – culling the side ads and replacing them with four at the top.

Why have Google made the changes?

Some of the main reasons include:

  • To increase the revenue they receive.
  • To increase the amount of space available for Product Listing Ads (PLAs).
  • To encourage businesses to improve the quality of their web pages to boost their organic rank.

Another reason would be that, according to Word Stream data, the right hand ads only equated to approximately 14% of total clicks.

Whatever the main reasons are, it means small businesses need to step up their game with their organic content.

Who can benefit?

Businesses who already advertise using Google AdWords shouldn’t be too worried. Seeing as around 85% of clicks come from the top ads, the removal of the ads on the ride hand side won’t cause a massive loss of traffic.

The biggest winners are thought to be the companies who hold position 4 ads as the click-through rate (CTR) is skyrocketing. Also the ads on the fourth spot will be able to benefit from ad extensions and have more room to describe what they are advertising.

Who will be negatively impacted?

This is bad news for those who focus on organic search engine optimisation (SEO). The fourth positioned ad replaces the first position organic result. This will put more pressure on businesses to make their organic listings stand out from the crowd. Also, some listings that would previously rank on the first page will be pushed to page two. This has a massive impact on them as as much as 85-95% of Google traffic occurs on the first page of results.

Businesses will have to strike a fine balance with PPC marketing and SEO. It makes the importance of quality content key to rank well and reduce the cost of ads.

Read and comment on the original 123 Reg article.