Right Rail RIP: Google SERPs Round Up

At this point you should’ve communicated to your boss, your clients, your team, the guy in engineering and anyone else who will listen that Google made some big changes to its search engine results page (SERP), dispensing with the right rail search ads all together. Depending on what source you consult, the change is has been in place for seven days now. So what do we know so far? For the most part, it’s still a bit early to assess meaningful impact but information is beginning to roll in from various sources.

Here’s a timeline:

Feb 19th:

Merkle’s Andy Taylor reports that advertiser data was showing movement in traffic share between ad positions on the SERP. He cites “the share of desktop non-brand traffic coming from the right rail declined yesterday while the share coming from ads below the organic results increased. The increase in traffic share from ads below the organic links indicates Google is shifting ads that were being shown on the right rail to the bottom of the page.”

Feb 20th:

Search Engine Land’s Matt McGee reports in his post that, “A Google spokesperson has confirmed … that the change is now rolling out to all searches in all languages worldwide. Ads will not appear on the right side of desktop search.”

Feb 21st:

Search Engine Watch chimed in to note that increased paid top-of-page activity, and the resulting “continual ‘pushing down’ of organic listings will certainly be an issue for many of us” going on to note that this will result in a bigger focus on SEO for businesses, and higher CPCs for paid search advertisers, as competition for top slots increases.”

Feb 22nd:

Search Engine Land followed up with a helpful FAQ, covering the changes and offering differing opinions on the potential impact on CPCs, while reminding us all that it’s “too soon to tell” if CPCs are going to skyrocket.

Feb 23rd:

Wordstream’s Mark Irvine reports in with actual data drawn from twenty-seven hundred clients, giving us one of the first significant snapshots of the changes in action. Some highlights:

– Position three has picked up the biggest boost in CTR
– Positions five through seven (now the bottom three ads) have seen a sharp decline in CTR
– CTR and Click share for PLA’s has gone up
– Moz is reporting that only 20% of searches have seen the SERP changes so far
– Because the change happened heading into “weekend traffic” there’s no read yet on volume or cost impact overall as a result of the change

Clearly, the dust has yet to settle on this seismic search event. Over the next few weeks, SEM managers will be studying data to piece together as clear a picture as possible of the new search landscape.

Not sure how much this change impacts your search marketing? Contact Kiosk and we’ll help you plan for high impact SEM in the right-rail-free world of 2016.