This week, we saw a major change in Google PPC advertising: Google removed the sidebar text ads from desktop search results pages.
This will have consequences for hotels advertising on Google.
Firstly, there will be less ads displayed overall. This may secondly result in higher bidding cost.
But let’s start from the beginning.
What exactly has changed?
There are some changes to desktop search results:
- No text ads will be served on the right side of the search results page (SERP) on desktop anymore
- Google will serve 4 text ads instead of 3 at the top, above the organic listings
- 3 text ads will show at the bottom of the SERPs
- The total number of text ads on a SERP will shrink from 11 to a maximum of 7
- Product listing ad blocks and Knowledge Panels will show in the right sidebar for relevant queries
So, for example when searching for “hotel berlin”, the new SERP looks like this:
There is now a large empty space on the right-hand side where PPC-ads used to be. Underneath the top page ads Google displays results from Google Hotel Finder. The very last result at the bottom of the page and just above the fold (on a very large screen) is an organic search result.
Why has Google removed sidebar ads?
Google’s “mobile first” approach is enforced, due to mobile searches beginning to overtake desktop searches. This move results in a similar user experience across both.
There is probably also a monetary consideration: When there is fewer positions, advertisers will have to bid more to get on the first page.
Officially, Google says this change will improve overall quality. The lowest position ads (9,10,11) are the ones Google has deemed least likely to appeal to the user. Removing them means that the quality of the remaining ad links is improved.
What are the consequences for hotels advertising on Google?
For independent hotels and brands with more modest advertising budgets, Google’s change will limit the use of more generic keywords. Bidding on short-term keywords will become too costly. Instead, such hotels and brands will have to shift their focus to niche and highly relevant long-tail keywords. Basically, far more thought will have to go into PPC strategies because bidding lower and appearing in position 5 or 6 will not be an option anymore.
Moreover, organic listings are being pushed down even further the SERPs and on some screens even underneath the fold. Therefore, brand campaigns are going to be increasingly necessary. Hotels need to bid on their own brand to fend off competitors’ paid ads.
Even though it’s too early to say whether and how much click costs will increase, it would probably be wise to budget more for Google PPC advertising in order to be still competitive in desktop advertising.