Some may not have ever noticed, but now there is official word from Google that the Adwords ads that appear on the right hand side of Google are being removed with only a couple of exceptions.
Ads will now have two places to reside on that first page of Google, which will be four positions at the top and either two or three ads at the bottom of the search page. The sidebar will be reserved for what Google is referring to as “highly commercial” which consists of searches such as “hotels in New York City” and similar mass commercial searches. The other exception being ads in the Knowledge Panel.
While this is breaking news (thank you Search Engine Land), what has not been discussed is the impact this will have on the organic listings which now gets pushed down below the fold.
Many are sure to cry foul as Google’s pockets will get even deeper with this change as advertisers that previously felt that the “sweet spot” was position 4 through 7, will all begin shifting to the need to fight for position 1 through 4 to have even the slightest chance of their ad being seen. This will also undoubtedly drive up CPC and as a result the cost per lead, for all businesses using the Adwords platform. But where are you going to go?
This is also a serious blow to organic SEO whose position 1, is pushed below the fold and in most cases directly to the middle of the page. SEO consultants will have to seriously begin analyzing paid advertising opportunities to keep their clients phones ringing.
The only exception to this format appears to be broad keywords (such as “dog”, “watch”), names (such as Kim Kardashian), and trademarked brand name searches. Even then, advertisers will begin to feel the need to create Adwords campaigns focusing on competitor names which typically have slim chances of converting into a valid lead.
The most interesting piece of this puzzle is how Google is slowly conforming its layout to become almost completely a paid platform for anything even remotely competitive. Even with this drastic change, it practically makes organic SEO worthless with so much of the SERP real estate being dedicated to their paid advertising platform.
This change is sure to get its fair share of backlash, but in the end, Google has seemingly decided to give its top results to the business with the deepest pockets and not necessarily with the most relevant content. Because even if you did supply the best content available anywhere in the world for a topic, the best you can now hope for without opening your wallet is the middle of the SERP.