Google Retiring Right-Hand AdWords Results: What It Means For Your Business

Google Adwords change

The Google AdWords landscape just changed dramatically, with the recent announcement that the search giant would be removing all right panel paid ads from its Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs).

Long a common sight on Google SERPs, the right-hand side ads have been removed from desktop results worldwide as of Feb. 22, Google announced, saying the move is the result of more than five years of testing. Now, visitors will only see AdWords ads at the top and bottom of results pages, with the right-hand side being whitespace or filled with either Product Listing Ads or Knowledge Graph Boxes when relevant.

BEFORE: Google with Adwords displayed in the right panel.

BEFORE: Google with Adwords displayed in the right panel.

AFTER: Google sidebar with Product Listing Ads in place of AdWords.

AFTER: Google sidebar with Product Listing Ads in place of AdWords.


At Noble Studios, we see this having several key impacts on businesses hoping to get (or stay) on the first page.


1. Organic Real Estate Gets More Precious

To offset the decrease in ads caused by removing the right-hand AdWords results, Google has increased the number of potential ads appearing at the top of the SERPs from three to four. With the additional AdWords ad placement at the top of the SERPs, the total number of organic results displayed will diminish in many cases, making that real estate even more precious.

Many organic results – even top results – will now be displayed beneath the fold, pushing them further down the page. The result will be that your organic click through rates may drop. This is especially true on highly competitive search terms such as “hotels in San Francisco,” where visitors will be greeted with Google’s Local Three-Packs (aka Snack Packs), which are trios of business listings that display above all organic content.


2. Content Remains King

In this new world order, it is more crucial than ever that your content is up to snuff. Businesses will need to take a hard look at which keywords they’re going after, asking themselves if these keywords truly reflect their desired user intent and whether the on-page content backs up this intent by providing depth and utility.


3. Align Keywords With User Intent

For those concerned with paid search, the field has just gotten a lot more competitive – and potentially more expensive – thanks to this move. As with organic, you need to focus on keywords that match user intent, because the stakes have been raised. Businesses should either cut down on the number of keywords they’re targeting or ensure they’re truly targeting the proper keywords. With the anticipated increase in the cost-per-click from this move by Google, it should be a goal of every marketer to eliminate waste and focus on keywords that drive conversions and not just traffic.  

A few other tips:

  • Businesses that own their local listings will be more likely to weather this change, as they’re more likely to be displayed in the Three-Packs, boosting them to the top of the results page.
  • Consider targeting more long-tail keywords.
  • Seek to answer questions with your keywords. In this new landscape, “What is the best hotel in San Francisco?” offers more organic potential as a keyword/phrase than “San Francisco hotels.”
  • Consider an integrated strategy. Look at the individual SERPs of high priority keywords to determine where you need to focus your efforts – whether on search, organic or a blend of the two.

Learn how Noble Studios can help you determine your best strategy in the ever-changing landscape of search engine marketing – both paid and organic.