The PPC community has been out in full force in recent days after Google stopped serving paid text ads on the right hand side of its results page.
Product listing ads (PLAs) still appear and a fourth ad has been included at the top of the page for premium phrases, pushing the organic rankings further down the page and giving the SEO community plenty to think about in the process.
Why has Google made this change?
The most likely reason Google has made this decision is for economic gains – with CPCs forecasted to rise given that the top positions will become more desirable – and a push to make the desktop and mobile/tablet experience more seamless, which potentially coincides with the other big announcement that accelerated mobile pages (AMP) for HTML is now available.
What does this mean for webmasters and agencies?
The PPC landscape will likely become more competitive with a reduced amount of paid ads now showing in the prime real estate at the top of the page, and campaigns that have relied on the regular and cheaper traffic driven from positions 4-10 may start to see a drop off in click-through-rates, forcing a push into the more expensive premium positions.
For websites that rely more on organic traffic there is the concern that the fourth paid ad position may eat into their share, while only the top three local positions now show by default, down from five previously, which could have an impact on smaller businesses.
What to do
It may take a little time to notice any big changes, but In the short term you’ll need to keep a close eye on Google AdWords and analytics to assess the impacts and adjust bids of your top performing PPC keywords if conversion rates start to drop off. If increasing your bids to maintain the same conversion rate increases your cost-per-sale or cost-per-lead it might be time to weigh up putting more time, effort and money into obtaining a higher organic ranking.