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After yet another change to Google’s search algorithms, right-side ads in searches are gone. This has left many business owners and SEM managers wondering what they can do to continue running effective AdWords campaigns that grow their business and grab the attention of customers, without paying a fortune on what is now prime real estate.

Although this change is significant, the removal of right-side ads provides many opportunities for savvy business marketers that were unavailable in previous methods of SEM and SEO management.

The following areas demonstrate how businesses can adapt to the removal of right-side ads, compete for the remaining ad space available, and use the information that still shows up in the sidebar to their advantage.

Leverage Google+ Preference for Better Search Ranking

Leverage Google+ Preference for Better Search Ranking

One of the more significant aspects of the removal of the sidebar advertisements is the increased weight of Google+ for organic marketing of an organization. Not only does it affect your page ranking and provide more links to show up in searches, but Google+ is also part of the knowledge box that still shows up in the sidebar of searches. (More on that below.)

Despite the lackluster performance of Google+ as an actual social network, it is now integrated with Google My Business, which is the new platform for all business listings on Google, Google+, and Google Maps. Even if you’re not dedicating a lot of time and effort to your Google+ page, managing your Google My Business listing is a good place to start.

More Competition, Less Clutter

More Competition, Less Clutter

For the consumer, the removal of sidebar ads offers a more integrated browsing experience with less cluster. While this is a positive thing for many online consumers, it also means that there are fewer spaces available for advertising.

There is some debate over what effect the decreased amount of ad space will actually have on AdWords marketing, but it is generally agreed that it will increase the competition between businesses. Whether this will result in overall cost increases to advertising, or whether the costs will be offset by other systems or market behaviors, remains to be seen until more data from current advertising campaigns becomes available.

PLA Ads (Product Listings)

PLA Ads (Product Listings)

One of the areas that Google will still list paid ads in sidebar searches is for specific product lines. For example, if a customer searches “best roofing hammer,” companies can target that search with PPC advertising on Google Shopping. This will provide an integrated ad in the sidebar that features various products that people can purchase. Although paid advertisements will be available in these spots, organic results will also appear. Product listing ads should be a part of SEO/SEM strategic planning for any product-based business, as well as part of integrating with Google’s main search algorithm.

Knowledge Boxes

Knowledge Boxes

A knowledge box shows information that the Google algorithm returns as most useful for a specific search. For example, if you search a movie celebrity’s name, the sidebar will be filled with information on that celebrity, most likely from Wikipedia or IMDB, including age, pictures, TV and movie appearances, and related searches.

When it comes your business, the knowledge box is useful for getting potential customers accurate and useful information about your location, contact information, hours, and business description, without requiring them to visit your website. Google has told Search Engine Land that there may be some options for paid advertising within this knowledge box in the future, but more information is not yet available.

3 or 4 Top Page Ads

Bottom and Top-of-the-Page Ads

The remaining advertising spaces in Google searches are the top and bottom text ads. Google has also clearly defined the limits they will place on top-of-the-page search advertisements with the release of the changed rules. It is not certain whether the approximately 10% of clicks on sidebar searches will go primarily to the top or to the bottom, but the dominance of the top (88%) in searches does not seem to be going away.

3 or 4 Top Page Ads

3 or 4 Top Page Ads

Because of the increasing prominence of top-of-the-page advertisements, Google has announced that there will only be 3 advertisements available, except in highly competitive commercial searches, which allow for 4 top-page slots. This further limits the usage of Google search for businesses and increases the possibilities for organic marketing and bottom-of-the-page marketing.

While these changes are certainly going to impact many businesses, they don’t need to be cause for great concern. At Dialed-In Local, we can help you adapt to Google’s continually changing search algorithms and use those changes to your advantage. Contact us to learn more about how you can run a killer AdWords campaign, even without those right-side ads.

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