In February Google decided to no longer show Google Adwords ads on the right hand side of its search results pages on desktop devices worldwide. So you won’t see this again:


Google will now show 4 instead of 3 paid ads for competitive keywords above the organic / ‘natural’ seach results for “highly commercial queries”.

Google Adwords 4 Paid Ads above Search Results
Personally I think this change is a good thing! I’m pretty sure the text ads on the right side were often ignored anyway, comparable to display banner blindness. I stumbled upon a study from January 2016 that confirmed this > only 15% of the clicks are coming from the right side and bottom ads.

I do believe however in the more ‘visual’ approach of Google Shopping which you also see on the example above. Showing Google Shopping results is one of the 2 exceptions Google made related to the right side. The other one is Knowledge Graph Boxes. Those will also still appear on the right side.

By removing the right side text ads on the right side Google is making the desktop and mobile search results more similar. Important to know is that on mobile Google will mostly show 2 or 3 ads at the top of the search results.

Don’t underestimate the impact of this change:

  • For advertisers
    • Cost per click will probably increase, and it might be harder for companies with a smaller budget since now there are only 7 positions (= 4 at the top and 3 at the bottom of the Search Engine Results Page). But that said the positions are more qualitative now!
    • More opportunity to use ad extensions due to the 4th position you can get, since ad extentions never appeared for side ads.
    • Reporting will be easier: top vs. side ads was an apple to pear-comparison since sometimes your top ads included extensions while your side ads didn’t.
  • For those doing SEO
    • This change is bad news for anyone involved in Search Engine Optimization (SEO), since the new 4th ‘Paid’ position, was the old 1st ‘Organic’ position.
  • For visitors
    • Depending on your screen size it might happen that you only see ads and no organic/natural search results (or only one) without scrolling (= above the fold).

If you’re using Google Adwords make sure to adapt your strategy taking the above into account. Best way to test the impact for your business is experimenting which I’ll be start doing for our webshop So Baggy right after this blog post 😉

What do you think… should marketers be worried or will this turn out to be a good thing?