Google Adwords and small business… is this the end?

Did you notiGoogle SERPs page, no right hand adsce the Google Adwords change?  From last Friday (19th February 2016) google search engine result pages now only show ads at the top and bottom of the page, removing the right hand panel of ads that we are all familiar with.

Google Adwords has always been a friend to small business, allowing them easy access to targeted advertising at a low-cost, but this latest change continues the trend of stacking the odds in the favour of the big boys at the expense of small business.

The impact on small business advertising

So what is the possible to small businesses in the UK? Here’s a couple of the main issues:

Increased cost

The removal of the right hand column means a big reduction in the ad space on each page, with only positions at the top and bottom available. The inevitable outcome is an increase in costs of the remaining space as advertisers fight over fewer positions.

So small businesses may find that their cost effective advertising is suddenly a lot more expensive and competing with the budgets of larger competitors very difficult indeed.

More pressure on natural search

It is also planned that on highly commercial search result pages, google may increase the number of ads at the top of the page from 3 to 4.  This will reduce the visibility of the natural search results even further by pushing them lower on the page.

With less visibility of the natural search results the importance of being among the first listed on the first page of search results becomes even more important and hence an ever greater focus on the SEO of your website pages.

Is it all gloom and doom?

Well it is certainly not good news for small businesses who focus on website natural search, these listings appearing further down the page will have a negative impact.

In terms of paid search (PPC/Adwords) the jury is out on the impact as research typically suggests that less than 20% of clicks are via the right hand panel and with an additional ad at the top the natural balance may remain.

So is this end, should you pack up your Adwords accounts? Our advice is to remain calm.  Keep a close eye on your analytics, your competitors and your paid search positions. Most importantly continue to invest in your content and SEO strategy to develop those natural search positions.


Stuart Lanham is MD of Beach Hut Studio, a marketing and digital consultancy based in Shoreham by Sea, West Sussex. Please contact us to find out more about how we can help you your paid search, SEO and content marketing.