“No more ads on the right hand side” says Google

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As of yesterday it has been confirmed by Google that the change is now rolling out to all searches in all languages worldwide. Ads will no longer appear on the right hand side of desktop search results.

Wow – since October 2000 when Google AdWords was launched,  us online marketers have been optimising our paid search ads for 1, 2 or 3 ads at the top left of the page and the remainder down the right hand side. So even if you were in position 4 or 5 you would still get a look in sitting out on the right. The click through rates on the right hand side were never great (getting less than 10% of all clicks) but you were above the fold and at least had a chance of being seen.

Now you are either at the top of the page or you are dropped right down to the bottom.

But that’s not all that’s changing – we have all seen the sneaky 4th ad that has been jumping below the 3rd paid ad at the top of the page. This has been another test Google has been running and it is also here to stay. Although, Google is saying that the additional 4th ad above the search results will only be shown for “highly commercial queries”.

So we are going from this:

Google Search Results old

To this:

Google Search Results new

What does Google have to say about the 4th ad?

“We’ve been testing this layout for a long time, so some people might see it on a very small number of commercial queries. We’ll continue to make tweaks, but this is designed for highly commercial queries where the layout is able to provide more relevant results for people searching and better performance for advertisers.”


Mmmmm “a small number of commercial queries”; even in these early days I’ve seen four ads coming up for a lot of queries. One more paid ad basically means that the organic results are being pushed that much further down the page, and paid ads are getting a higher percentage of the clicks vs organic results.


In 2015 Google’s revenues were $74.5b, with around 68% of that coming from AdWords (and another 21% from adsense). Google has been testing moving ads from the right hand side to the bottom and bringing in a 4th ad to the top for a while now. One thing we know for certain is that Google won’t be making any changes that impact negatively on their AdWords Golden Goose. Quite the opposite – the effect these changes will have will result in advertisers bidding more to ensure their ads are in the top 4 positions and not left at the bottom of the page.


What does this mean for SEO and organic results?

Well, everyone just lost their position one in the organic results – as this has now been taken up by the 4th ad. Plus, what’s even worse is that for many on desktop devices the number one organic result will no longer be visible above the fold!

Google Search Results full page


What does this mean to us AdWords advertisers?

It means a lot. In-house here at Online Republic we spend over $12m a year on Google and Bing. So any changes in AdWords can have a large influence on the impact and profitability of our marketing. The general feeling among those in the industry is similar to my own view, in that it will ultimately mean advertisers will need to spend more on AdWords to drive similar levels of qualified traffic through to their website.

Which is probably what we will continue to do – for as long as it continues to drive qualified traffic and conversions that make us money.

Brad has spent many years working on client side, developing digital strategies and managing teams to implement those strategies. He understands the challenges and priorities from an online marketer’s perspective ­ the high targets, tight budgets and the education required to gain internal buy ­in to digital strategies. He also likes riding his Mt bike and telling stories about all the mountains he has climbed before becoming a Dad.

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