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Will Google’s Latest SERP Changes Hurt SEO?

by Stephanie Terrett | 26.02.2016
Last weekend Google announced the frightening news that they have removed all PPC ads from the right-hand side of the search engine results page with instant global effect. This news has sparked fears that organic search results will take a hit, as organic listings have now been pushed even further down the SERP with four ads now at the top instead of three for “highly commercial” search terms.

So why is Google filling the entire above the fold space with paid ads? Googles decision behind this appears to be purely commercially driven, and they’ve sacrificed their own user experience in doing so, which is hypercritical as their whole theory behind the Panda algorithm update was to enhance user-experience, so why is this any different?

This isn’t Google’s first attempt at ditching sidebar ads according to TechCrunch, although last time in 2012 the change that was implemented didn’t involve increasing the number of ads above organic search results. And I’m sure the latest changes won’t be the last either!

Some of the questions SEO’s are asking themselves is what does this all mean for organic search results and what should we do in response to this radical change? Well we shouldn’t panic, because it does not mean the death of SEO. Now more than ever, we are competing against paid ads, so if you are ranking for a commercial term it’s important to ensure everything is done to make the organic listing stand out with optimised META information and schema markup.

We can’t get too worked up over this, because this change has only been made to desktop SERP’s, which accounts for less than half of searches. So to quantify the impact of this, that’s about 8% of queries affected according to Search Engine Watch.

For now, we’re going to keep an eye on our clients’ keyword positions and look out for changes. Time will tell, so watch this space for evolvements on the situation!