Google Sidebars Disappear – What this means for Ecommerce?

It is official – Google has decided to pull down ads that appeared on the right side of the SERPS. Instead, the paid product listing ads (PLAs) now appear on the right side with other relevant products matched by the search. At least four text ads would be displayed on the right and three more at the bottom of the SERP – taking the total number of ads to seven (as against 11 before). This change has now been rolled out and has been made since Google has felt the need to match the user preferences – most searches are now conducted via mobiles as opposed to desktop. The elimination of the sidebars therefore, makes the experience similar for users on both desktop and mobile searches. In any case, the click-through rates of sidebar ads were not as many as expected, so there seemed to be little sense in hanging onto something that did not work. In addition, fewer sponsored links is expected to improve the overall quality of the links that remain.

This in fact, is beneficial for the ecommerce businesses – a vast number of new opportunities have opened up. With the grid of relevant products – those that match searches – on the right, users would be able to get hold of what they need more easily, thereby increasing sales for ecommerce businesses. In addition, placement of their products has become simpler too. While paid ads may not have changed – they do have a better and more visible location on the SERPS.

While this change may bring in benefits, ecommerce companies would need to address a few issues too. For starters, they would need to re-evaluate their ad strategies. New and improved keywords would be required in order to let Google know what the products are, in order for it to make the correct placement and be ‘picked up’ during the keyword searches. It is now even more crucial for companies to stop using loosely connected keywords and ensure focus and specificity. The relevant and correct keywords will ensure higher visibility and over time gain more revenues for a business.

With companies mushrooming everywhere, the overall space for advertising is shrinking at an overwhelming pace. Hence, it is important for company to pay close attention to the kind of words and phrases they use in order to gain the ‘right spots’ with Google, and grab eyeballs for their business. Companies with smaller budgets would need to rethink completely their advertising strategies, especially if the price of advertising shoots up. Companies would need to spend big money and have a robust and durable ad strategy in place if they are to gain visibility. Those currently running pay per click advertisements, would need to make major changes to their strategy.

The changes could also affect cost per click and the fewer number of ads now permissible could lead to price hikes. The possibility of auction bidding is very real as companies want to gain top spots and higher visibility. No change is ever free of both pros and cons and hence it would behove companies to incorporate the changes in design and think innovatively to create ads that would leverage the strengths of this new format.

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