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Recent Changes in Google AdWords (And One Upcoming Change)

Posted by drew on May 27, 2016, 12:49 p.m.

Google AdWords has been making some changes to the way they display ads recently. In February of this year, they announced the end of the right side bar of ads on search result pages. At the same time, they were also experimenting with a block of four ads above the organic results, instead of the typical block of three. This four-ad block has since become pretty standard in most SERPs.

These changes were met with mixed reactions, including from some SEOs claiming that Google was breaking its own quality guidelines by including too many ads above the fold. A strong theory is that Google is attempting to streamline and standardize the SERP between mobile and desktop. Mobile doesn’t support the right side ad bar, and that may be the reason we are no longer seeing it on desktop.  Experts also disagree on the overall effects we will see in CPC and CTR with these changes.

Regardless of Google’s motivations for making these changes, everyone dealing in search engine marketing has to adapt to the results. And Google recently announced they would be making even more changes to the appearance of the text ads in SERPs.

Current text ads include a 25-character headline and two 35-character description lines. Starting later this year, there will be two headlines, each with a 30 character limit, and one 80-character description. The description will automatically split into two lines when appropriate, eliminating the need for advertisers to manually divide the lines.

In addition to those changes, the way the URL is displayed in ads will also be changing. Right now, advertisers manually enter both the final URL and the display URL. If the domains in these two don’t match up, your ads will be disapproved. In the future, the display URL’s domain will be automatically pulled from the final URL to eliminate the potential for disapproval. Advertisers will be able to customize the URL path after the domain in the display URL.

As a side note, bid adjustments will also soon be available for all devices (instead of only mobile devices currently).

All of these changes are expected to be rolled out to all AdWords users by the end of summer.

So what can we do right now?

In preparation for this change, advertisers should be rewriting the ad copy in their account to fit the new length standards. And, as always, it is a good idea to improve the quality scores in your campaign through improving keyword relevance, landing page experience, and CTR through better ad text.