In a shocking change to it’s years long tradition of right hand side ads, Google is removing all Right Hand Side Ads on SERPs worldwide.
Beginning Friday 19 February, ads will now only show ads at the top and bottom of the SERP. Although it may increase the number of ads from three to four if the search query is “highly commercial.”
Here today, but not tomorrow.
This roll-out will effect users worldwide in all languages and will bring the desktop experience closer to the mobile experience, although whether the amount of ads shown to mobile users will increase hasn’t been confirmed.
So what does this mean for marketers and users alike?
Well for regular users, the right-hand space will still be utilised for Product Listing Ads (PLAs) as well as Knowledge Graph Boxes, so you probably won’t notice much of a difference there. However the continual ‘pushing down’ of organic listings will certainly be an issue for many of us.
For businesses this will mean the organic space is even more precious will therefore lead to an even bigger focus on SEO
For Paid Search advertisers the change will certainly drive up average CPCs as the competition for the top slots increases. It’s gonna get ugly.
read more on Search Engine Watch
Granted, this will have massive repercussions for search advertisers. Average CPCs will almost certainly inflate to vie for the top positions, as research has repeatedly shown that users overwhelmingly view, and interact with the top of the SERP, and neglect the bottom. One potential reason for limiting the amount of advertisers on the SERP might be that Google has determined the average CTR for the RHS ads is poor across verticals, and the expected CPC inflation from this major change is projected to more profitable in the long run, we suspect.
Additionally, the impact on SEO cannot be understated, as with four ads on the top of page, the organic results will likely be pushed below the fold entirely.
We will continue to observe these changes in the coming days/weeks.