On Friday, The SEM Post broke the news that the layout of the SERPs had changed. The layout of the office also changed as everyone leaned into their screens to make sure they were reading right. The changes are:
No right-hand side ads (exceptions apply)
Text ads will no longer show on the right-hand side. Shopping results and the knowledge graph will still show. You may still see right-hand side ads, but these are ghosts, and they will disappear soon.
Another top position ad
At the same time, a fourth text ad is appearing in the top positions for “highly commercial queries”. Nobody is quite sure what constitutes a highly commercial query, as four ads have been seen on searches such as “business cards”, “villas in Sicily”, and “men’s black leather shoes”.
Moz is reporting 4 top ads on 19% of search queries since the change, so this could be significant for advertisers with average positions around 3 and 4.
What does this mean for you?
More competition for top spots
Positions 4+ (5+ for some searches) will now appear at the bottom of the page at all times. Advertisers for whom visibility is important should expect to face more competition and higher click prices for the top spots. Whether this will translate to higher click prices for all remains to be seen.
More keywords dropping off the first page
Under the old layout, there could be 11 ads on a single SERP. It seems unlikely this will carry over to the new layout, so keywords with very low positions could drop off the first page altogether. This may not be a bad thing however, as it could effectively clean out low-spending keywords that aren’t generating many results.
Shopping takes up more of the available space
With no text ads on the right, shopping should take up more of the space proportionally, and also stand out more. While it was never acceptable to slouch on shopping campaigns, it is now even more important to get them right. Expect even more traffic to come through shopping ads in the future.
Organic results will be less visible (on certain queries)
With four ads at the top of the page, organic results could be below the fold on some screens. Expect the balance of paid and organic clicks to shift on those highly commercial queries.
Will it affect my results?
At this moment in time, we cannot know what will happen to performance, but in the words of Douglas Adams: DON’T PANIC. Google has been testing these changes for a long time. Google’s profit margins depend on its advertisers’ profit margins, so we wouldn’t expect dramatic changes to CPCs. We’ll be sitting back and monitoring the situation, optimising based on the data that comes in.
If you are concerned in any way about this change, please feel free to contact us on +44 (0) 113 212 1211 – we’d be happy to help.