Google Changed the AdWords Game – What it Means for New Home Builders…

March 1, 2016

Paid search (SEM) – using Google AdWords – can be a very cost-effective way to drive targeted leads to your website and landing pages.

But Google has just changed the game for Google AdWords, as they appear on desktop. (Changes do not affect how paid search ads appear on mobile devices).

Tanner Ross, Digital Marketing Manager for SmartTouch Interactive, weighs in on what these changes mean for new home builders and developers.


Tanner Ross

Side Ads are Gone!

Google used to present 3 paid ads at the top of a search result and up to 11 paid ads on the right side of the page.

Google AdWords with Side Ads Crossed Out Feb 2016

But now, the side ads are gone!  They’ve been replaced with;

  • 4 paid ads at the top of the search results
  • 3 paid ads at the bottom
  • And none on the side.

This means there are now up to 4 fewer paid search results on a page.

Here’s what it looks like as of February 29, 2016

Top of page

Google AdWords Mar 2016 New 4 Top Ads


Bottom of Page


Google AdWords Mar 2016 New 3 Bottom Ads

What Does This Mean to Advertisers?

At SmartTouch Interactive, it’s our job to keep our fingers on the pulse of what’s going on.  We are monitoring the changes and will publish our findings in early April.

Meanwhile, we believe that the algorithm for quality score will be slightly affected and we believe that more strategic bidding by experts is going to be key to success.

Here are what we think some of the benefits and challenges will be with  Google’s AdWords changes.


We believe there are a number of benefits to this new strategy for advertisers.

1.  Ads look more native with the 1-4 top ad format. If you look at the statistics, up to 85% of clicks on Google AdWords used to be on the top 3 ads (versus approximately 15% for the side ads). More clicks mean more response for advertisers.

AdWords Clicks Wordstream


2.  All ad extensions will now display for all ads. Before, the Google ads in the top positions of 1-3 were eligible for all ad extensions. Side ads would only display location and call extension. NOW, all 7 of the Google AdWords ads (positions 1-4 at the top and positions 5-7 below the organic search results) will display call, location, callout and sitelink extensions on the results page. Positions 1-4 have seen a boost in click-through rate (CTR).

3. Positions 1-4 have seen a boost in click-through rate (CTR).

4. So far, we’ve not seen a noticeable change in the cost per click (CPC), but it’s still early days.


There are also some potential challenges that we will be monitoring on behalf of our clients.

1. Organic search results will be impacted. The paid AdWords ad in position 4 is now in the position where the organic search result position 1 used to be. This means that organic position 1 is now pushed down below the fold, and is not visible on some desktop devices.

2. SEO specialists must now work harder to receive traffic with the increase in top paid ad positions.

3. Because the total number of ads has decreased by 4 (from 11 to just 7), it’s very possible that the CPC will increase as brands fight for top ad positions.

What Should You Do?

Make sure that your SEO and SEM suppliers are working together to maximize the results you get from both organic and paid search.

Want to Chat about Your SEO or SEM?

SmartTouch Interactive manages SEM for over 60 real estate clients in the U.S., Canada and Central America.

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