What Google’s Removal of Side Ads Means for Online Marketers

Pay-per-click (PPC) advertising can be an effective part of an online marketing strategy. It can boost your business’s visibility and generate inbound leads, particularly if you’re launching a new initiative or want to drive traffic to a page not ranking well with organic search results.
But Google has changed the way these ads display on results pages.
In February, Google removed PPC ads from the right-hand side of the page, instead showing only top and bottom ads. Google usually shows three ads at the top of the page, but for more commercial queries (when Google is confident a user will make a purchase) it will show four.

Why did Google Drop the Side Ads?

There are a few reasons why Google decided to remove side ads:

  • Create a Cleaner User Experience

Google’s chief focus is the user. Removing side ads unclutters the Search Engine Results Page (SERPs), ensuring cleaner and easier user experiences.

  • Top-Ranking Ads Garner Higher Click-Through Rates 

The top ads – the ones that appear above organic search results – have always generated more paid clicks than their right-side counterparts. By removing side ads, Google is able to both declutter and remove infrequently clicked ads from the SERP.

  • Aligning Mobile and Desktop User Experiences

This is a big one. In 2015 mobile queries surpassed those coming from a desktop for the first time. Google has been rewarding mobile-optimized sites since their algorithm update in April 2015.

Tips to Deal with this Change

1.     Tweak How Your Ads Show Up on Google’s Results Pages

Google makes it easy to preview results and see how your ad will appear, letting you make adjustments. To learn more about how to do this, check out this guide from Google.
Make sure you create and test multiple ads to see which ones perform best. Making small changes based on the analytics – real user behaviour – will help you create the best possible ads and highest-converting landing pages.  The goal is to use PPC advertising to generate a steady flow of good quality leads.

2.     Increase Your Average Positions for Relevant Keywords

To maintain high visibility (impressions) and high response rate (click-throughs), you will need to keep your average position above three or four, depending on the number of ads Google displays.
To increase your position, you can:

  • Boost your bid – the amount you bid for a click by keyword
  • Boost your quality score – Google’s assessment of your ad and the corresponding landing page

Although it’s good to aim for the top position, you don’t necessarily need to be number one. Review your Cost per Acquisition to determine whether you are generating a positive return on investment.
In summary, taking advantage of Google’s Pay per Click advertising can positively impact your online marketing efforts. Keep the recent changes in mind to make sure you are optimizing PPC performance – thereby getting the highest possible return.


Core Online Marketing is a digital marketing agency with expertise in online advertising, landing page conversion, lead generation, SEO, content marketing, and much more! Contact us or sign up for our free online marketing seminar.
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