Google’s Take On The Recent Changes To The Results Page

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The change of removing Right – side bar on Google Desktop result page has brought confusion to advertisers recently.

What The Data Show

 This change is neutral for small advertisers.

Some people have expressed concerns that this change will adversely impact small advertisers. Their thesis is that a reduction in ad slots means that smaller companies are priced out of what’s left.

We worried about exactly the same thing, which is why we tested this change so extensively before rolling it out. The good news is, since the launch of the new layout, small advertisers as a whole haven’t seen much of a change in clicks.

 This change isn’t disrupting auction behavior.

AdWords is an auction. There’s no way to guarantee how people will react to this change, but based on the data there have been no appreciable changes to costs-per-click in aggregate.

Other people have concluded that the vast majority of PPC advertisers are better off. That was the intent of this change — more useful results without being disruptive to advertiser performance.


Taking Action 

Regardless of how these changes impact advertisers broadly, what’s important is that you understand how to manage campaigns specifically for your accounts. Luckily, it’s pretty straightforward, and you’re probably doing most, if not all, of the right things already.

  1. Monitor your reporting.

If you haven’t yet, take a look at your performance reports segmented by Top vs. Other. You can compare a period of time since this change took effect to a similar period in early February or before. The percent of clicks or conversions that you get from those right-rail ads should be small. In general, you can expect the most significant decrease in your impressions metric.

If you see something aside from CTR going up and impressions going down in those segments, do some diagnostic work and try to understand what might be causing your account to behave against expectations.

  1. Keep an eye on your bids and budgets.

Please don’t overreact to this change and get your bids out of whack with where they should be. Keeping an eye on your average position, especially segmented by Top vs. Other, can be particularly insightful. Bid to the performance you want to see; don’t overreact and bid to any theoretical auction pressures.

One important consideration here, though, is if you’re close to a daily limit in any of your important campaigns. You very well might be driving more clicks than you’re accustomed to from ads in position four. As a result, you may need to bump your daily budgets up to ensure you capture as many profitable clicks as possible.

  1. Enable all extensions that make sense for you.

Top ads are eligible to show more extensions, and those same extensions can also show at the bottom of the page. Now that text ads on the right rail are gone, each opportunity you get to display an ad is an opportunity to show a helpful ad extension. Investigate all of them and add any that you might be missing.

One subtle part of this change to the results page has to do with sitelinks. Two-line sitelinks will show instead of sitelinks with additional detail, in most cases. This means that you’re more likely to have four links with no supporting text than two links with details underneath those links.

Sitelinks with additional detail are still eligible to show when you’re the only ad above results (which is often the case on things like brand terms), so you should definitely continue to include those details, as well. Practically speaking, you should add plenty of sitelinks so that the system can choose the optimal combination for you.

  1. Continue to focus on writing great ads.

The recent change to the results page doesn’t affect your ad quality measurements. Your position on the page is factored into expected CTR, and each ad is going to continue to be evaluated with position taken into account.

  1. Refine your AdWords targeting if increased competition becomes an issue.

AdWords remains an auction. If competition changes behavior in a particular auction, either because of this change or because of any other reason, there could be instances where your ads aren’t in your desired positions.

If that happens, consider focusing your efforts on higher-value customers by using features like Remarketing Lists for Search Ads or Customer Match.