2016 has been a year of big changes on the web. Recently, Instagram’s algorithm changes made headlines – and a lot of unhappy users. Well, Google has also made some changes, and though they haven’t garnered as much attention, they can still have serious ramifications for your business.
One of the more noticeable changes has been the change in layout for Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs). Previously, a SERP would display 1-3 paid ads, underneath which a user would see organic results. The righthand sidebar contained more paid ads. However, Google recently said, “sayonara, sidebar,” drastically limiting the number of paid ad results on a particular SERP. In an effort to mitigate the change, Google has introduced four paid ads at the top of the search engine results. The sidebar area is still being used for advertising purposes, by showing two rows of product listing ads, instead of just one. The main theory is that Google eliminated the sidebar to have the desktop and mobile search experience better align. On desktop, the right sidebar now also may show Knowledge Panels – movie times, hotel prices, etc.
These changes affect marketers in some very serious ways. First of all, the sidebar historically showed 8 ads, for a total of 11 ads on the page. Now that there are less than half that many spaces, competition has increased dramatically. We have already seen keyword costs rise quite a bit, meaning that companies who receive a lot of business from AdWords should consider investing more of their budget into AdWords marketing. As time passes, we will keep you updated on how businesses and users react to this new change.