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Don’t Worry, No One Clicked on The Sidebar Ads Anyway

How will the recent changes to Google Adwords affect my dealer’s Paid Search Adwords Campaigns?

The simple answer is “Not Much.

I’ll rephrase that.. Not much for SEM-Master Level Dealers and Agencies. Yes, the right sidebar ads are gone (smell ya later) meaning there are far fewer spots for Dealers’ ads to fill. So the question you should be asking yourself is how do I get my ads in the top 4 spots without further breaking the bank?

The answer to this question is simple. Do the things you should have been doing all along.

What Should I have Been Doing All Along?

You know, weird things like ensuring your selected keywords are relevant to your business and the products you sell. Making sure you’re geographically targeting locations where you have a history of success, IE Where You Sell Things. Checking the Quality Score and relevance of the relationships between your Campaign(s), Adgroup(s), Ad(s), and Keyword(s) constantly. Making sure your ads contain keywords that are relevant to both your target customer, your ads, and perhaps most importantly your Landing Page URL. Making sure you build and maintain strong ad rank. Let’s not forget to include this often overlooked but vitally important negative keywords.

In a nutshell, be sure you are being relevant in Google’s eyes and more importantly your customers’ eyes.

So Why Did Google Remove The Sidebar Ads?

“Lack of relevance” is one commonly accepted answer. “Money” is another good one.

If you can reach far back in your memory do you ever remember any sidebar ads as being particularly “relevant”, as in having compelling ad copy and linking you to the item or idea the ad promised? Me neither.

Let’s agree that the ads that typically inhabited the far right “sucked” and as a result Google wasn’t making any money off of them. Now I know there will probably be someone that stands up and brings tons of great stats and data on how their position 4-5 ads were half as expensive as the 3 and provided a great ROI. To this person I would have to agree the cost tended to be low BUT the clicks were even lower. Focusing on “just being there” as a strategy is the digital equivalent of going to the high school dance to hide in the back to stare at the girl you like while others dancing with her. Yes you’re there but she’s unlikely to find you and ask for a dance. You can either be at the party or the life of it – which do you choose?

Is My Cost Per Click Going to Rise?

I was convinced that Cost Per Click would increase drastically but in reality the CPC I’ve seen across the roughly 90 Dealership Adwords accounts I manage stayed around the same. Some went up .01 – .11 cents before decreasing back to just above their normal monthly CPC averages. In some case I even accounts and campaigns saw enormous drops in CPC believe it or not. The example below shows a Nissan store I have been managing since April, 2015

Nissan Adwords


On this particular account you can see that AVG CPC dropped slightly from approximately November of 2015 until around February 2016 before climbing back. That change equates to a $3.11 (November 2015) to $3.03 (March 2016) difference or in other words “pretty much business as usual” a – 2.6 reduction in cost per click over a 5 month stretch.

Facts about this Account:

  • All CPC increases from start (April 2015 – October 2015) were due to extending Advertising Radius to from 25 – 40 miles.
  • No Display or Re-targeting has ever been run on this account.
  • This is an aggressive, high-performing Nissan dealership.
  • The above CPC performance chart depicts a combination of Branded, Model-Specific, Used, and Competitor Campaigns.

How Did You Manage To Keep Your Costs Consistent?

I am happy to share how I kept my Cost Per Click in check even though the recent Google SERP change while increasing my market share. Just ask me.

Dan Mondello is a true “Car Guy” – his first word (as a baby) was “Vehicle” and while in college Dan worked part time as a Corvette Restorat...