Google’s new ad layouts: was the panic legit?

It’s been a few weeks since Google switched up the ad layout on its search results pages. If you missed the news, here’s a recap: the ads that used to be on the right-hand side of the search results are now on the top and bottom of the search pages, bordering the search results like  bread in a sandwich.

By cutting out the right side ads, Google has created room for knowledge graphs and product listings, as seen here in this screenshot of a sample search.

SEO results - running shoes

Keep in mind these changes only affect desktop browsing. In mobile view, the ads look the same as they did before.

Why did Google switch it up? Some people are claiming Google wanted to make its layout consistent for all screen sizes. And some people are saying the big G just wanted to pull in more profits: by reducing the amount of ads available, the competition for ads will be fiercer, and, so the theory goes, the top spot could end up costing more.

Whenever Google makes a change, the internet is full of commentary, and this is no exception. We’ve seen mild predictions that it won’t matter very much in the end and dramatic predictions that it’s the end of small businesses forever.

If you’re in the latter camp, take heart. Be buoyed by these facts:

  • These changes only affect desktop views. As we all (or should by now) know, more and more people are using mobile, and desktop searches are steadily taking up less and less of the total search numbers.
  • We broke the news before, but take some time and let this soak in: the new desktop ad layouts, with ads before and after the organic listings, are pretty much the equivalent of what mobile users have been seeing for a long time.
  • It doesn’t have to mean your cost per clicks (CPCs) go through the roof. Just like marketing pro Nitin Kumar said in this article on the Business 2 Community site, your CPC will go down if you have stellar copy, keywords and landing pages.

So, grasshoppers, just like when the Henny Pennys  of the web wrung their hands over Mobilegeddon and we took the “wait and see” approach, we are going to sit tight and wait for more data. Just like we had a much gentler interpretation of Mobilegeddon, we’re expecting to stay rather Zen about these changes too. In the meantime, take a deep breath and keep focused on the basics.

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