Google Drops Ads on Right Side of Desktop Search Results

Big news — over the weekend Google rolled out a massive change to how they display AdWords ads on desktop search results pages. This means advertising on AdWords is bound to cost you more.

With immediate effect, Google is no longer showing ads in the right rail of desktop search results pages. Instead pages now look like mobile search results pages with three or four ads at the top of the page, none on the right, and up to three ads at the bottom of the page.

Below is an example of the new look and as you can see the right rail of the page (#2) now lacks ads.


Test this out yourself and you’ll see this now applies for all searches.

Whether or not there are three or four ads shown at the top of the page depends on the nature of the search. Google has said in the past when testing this that an additional fourth ad may show above the search results for highly commercial queries. Our checks certainly show that four ads consistently show for commercial queries such as “car rental auckland”, “auckland plumbers”, and so on.

Why should you care?

This will have massive, and unwelcome, repercussions for all search advertisers.

These changes mean that ad inventory on pages is now substantially reduced and unless an advertiser is in the first three or four positions they will be relegated to the bottom of the page. (Out of sight, out of mind).

Average PPC costs are bound to rise as competing advertisers ramp up their PPC bids high enough to secure one of the top three or four spots available.

Advertising on Google AdWords will cost more.

As we stated back in December, advertisers will not be the only casualties. It’s also bad news from an SEO perspective. Organic search results have been coming under increasing pressure with Google progressively adding in things like maps, local search results, answer boxes and the like — all of which push organic search results further down the page. An increase in the number of ads at the top of the page will push them even further down. This will make the top organic search positions that remain visible above the fold increasingly valuable and SEO competition for a top three position in organic search results will get even tougher.

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About the Author Mark Sceats

Mark is a Partner and Senior Consultant at SureFire which he founded back in 2002. Prior to establishing SureFire he worked for KPMG Consulting. Today Mark heads up SEO, embracing the challenges that can come with complex website implementations. Outside of work, his interests beyond his family are running, snowsports, diving and fishing (badly).

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