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One column of Google Ads to rule them all

one column of google ads to rule them all

Google Adwords, love it or hate it as you will but it is one of the most important marketing systems the world has ever seen and is a lifeline for many businesses of all sizes.

If you have ever used a Google Ads campaign to promote your business or event you have no doubt worked out that it can be expensive if there are lots of competitors chasing the same search results.

In recent months Google has made some big changes to the way the paid ads (Adwords) are presented on a computer screen and they have more in store.

This is what Googles top of page search often used to look like in 2015 and early 2016, there were effectively up to 8 ad positions to compete for.


And this is what a similar local service search looks like today (May 2016).


A single column of search results for all screen sizes

You can see in this example if you search for “newcastle plumber” most of the page on a typical laptop screen is taken up with the 4 rows of paid ads and then the google map. This means that the first ‘organic’ position in the search results is way down either at the bottom of the page or second screen as you scroll. Google is presenting literally a page of paid ads to click on.


In the past the typical search had 1 – 3 paid ads, then some organic search results and/or map listings and the other 1 – 8 pay per click ads off to the right. We’ve gone from a situation where a search result first view for local business searches was maps and up to maybe 10 ads to just 4 ads and now those top 4 spots are highly effective.

Effect on business advertising costs

The effect of this in general seems to be an increase in the cost per click and overall spend of those campaigns. Businesses with Google ads are bidding up the cost of those top spots because a lot of the people searching don’t go past that first view. It’s hard to tease out the effect of the change to the page layout from the generally increasing cost because of increased competition though.

There are plenty of people whom will say they don’t click on ads or scroll past them but the facts are that a lot of people who are looking for a business do click on the ads and so they are highly coveted marketing positions.

What to do?

Any campaigns you have running, make sure you check in on them (or get your Google Adwords manager to do so) and see how they are tracking, optimise the landing pages where possible to improve quality score and reduce costs, pause keywords that don’t convert well and make sure you are getting value for money from your ads.

What next?

Changes will no doubt continue and we surely have more surprises to discover in the future with Google Adwords. Google is increasing the length of the headlines in the text ads so that they can be more descriptive. We could speculate on other changes but to be sure it is getting more competitive and expensive to take out top positions in Google than ever before as businesses continue to shift from offline to online marketing. If you are not already testing Facebook ads and you are in a consumer facing business then it would be well worth looking into those as a possible source of new leads and to compare them to the cost of Google Ads.