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Like many, recently I was surprised to fire up the old Google machine and notice that the advertisements on the right hand side of the of the SERPs were conspicuously absent. Also, instead of three ads above the organic results there were now four. The change is neither entirely good or bad, but things are certainly going to be a little bit different going forward. Here’s what you need  to know.

Prepare to Shell Out Even More Cash on First Page Ads

PPC Marketers must now contend with a very basic supply and demand issue: the number of text ads that appear in the search results just went from as many as 11 to a a maximum of seven, meaning that a premium will be required for ads to appear on the first page. Expect this issue to be even more pronounced in highly competitive industries.

First Page Ads Should Convert Higher as a Whole

Part of Google’s decision to remove the ads on the right hand side was due to their ineffectiveness. Over the years consumers have developed a selective blindness for the ads which was reflected in drastically lower click through rates when compared to the ads that appear at the top of the page. This phenomenon has also been reflected in psychological studies which reveal a lower level of attention  paid to content the further right it appears on a page.

SEO Just Got a Little More Difficult

Similar to the supply and demand issue with PPC, the real estate that organic search results have to work with is smaller than it once was. It’s going to be more of a battle to fight to make your way to the top in organic search results, and if you do, you’d better hope that the 4th PPC ad doesn’t snatch up the attention you’ve worked so hard for.

A Greater Emphasis Needs to be Placed on the Quality of PPC Ads

Existing best practices of user friendly ad copy and on-topic landing pages are even more important than they once were. Making your ad’s quality score as high as possible is paramount if you want to complete in the ever changing Google market place.

What’s Next?

As native advertising, the goal of Google Adwords is for advertising to look like content. It’s reasonable to extrapolate that as the platform evolves, ads will only continue to get better at blending into the search results.  It wouldn’t be surprising if future updates include ads that seep into the flow of organic results and become even more seamless.