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Google made a BIG change that impacts how advertisements appear on search results pages. Google will no longer serve text ads on the right side of organic results, with an exception!

Google rolled out a HUGE change to remove ads on the right side of search results. In exchange, the ad placement is only at the top and/or bottom of the page. There could be as many as four ads above the organic search listings which Google calls “highly commercial queries.”

Let’s Break This Down for You:
Instead of showing up to 11 ads on a page, there is only room for 7 ads. This is a decrease of 36% of ads that show on a search results page. This new feature has affected users worldwide in all languages.

Why Did This Happen?
Google’s right side experiment has been in the works since 2011, according to Search Engine Land reports. This experiment has led up to this big change to test if bottom ads could be launched in larger markets.

There is an Exception!
Ads will not appear on the right side of desktop results with the following exception:

Product Listing Ad (PLA) boxes: use existing Merchant Center product data to decide what will appear in the results. These ads are separate from texts ads with two rows of products. Shoppers can find the best match before clicking to make a purchase.

Example: If you sell slippers and have a text ad for slippers on sale, a customer could see both of your ads on the same Google search results page. See the screenshot below

What does this mean for your business?

  • For business, this will mean there is an even larger focus on search engine optimization. The organic space is more valuable than ever before. Organic listings will be pushed down even further down the search page.
  • For paid search advertisers, this change will trigger higher priced cost per click (CPC) due to demand. The top of the page search is going to become more expensive.
  • This affects the experience that users have using Google. Sidebars stood out clearly as ads; now the change makes it hard for users to distinguish ads and organic results.
  • This change fits with Google’s mobile first strategy where marketers need to deliver mobile-friendly experiences. Google will deliver search rankings to sites that are optimized for mobile.
  • To achieve optimal results in paid search advertising campaigns, you must adjust and optimize. Quality score will become more of a factor with ad placement.
  • Landing page quality will affect your optimization. Conversion matters to ensure that your landing page converts.
Sample Data CPC
(Feb 2015)
(Feb 2015)
(March 2016)
(March 2016)
Data 1 $0.47 2.04% $0.73 6.05%
Data 2 $4.15 0.76% $2.32 3.35%
Data 3 $1.11 0.21% $2.57 1.44%
Data 4 $1.40 1.48% $1.50 3.95%
Data 5 $1.11 5.99% $0.97 7.87%

The data above demonstrates cost-per-click (CPC) and click-through-rate (CTR) in Feb 2015. Fast forward a year, we’ve included the data for CPC and CTR for March 2015. These samples show the difference in cost from a year ago. We are noticing that the click-through rates have gone up by 200% or more. While CPC average went up a bit from $1.59 per click to $1.61 per click. This is a very small price to pay to see your click through rate go thru the roof.

However, there are benefits to paid search from this change. Ads can use call-out extensions, site link extensions, location extensions – which were only a benefit for top-of-page ads. The quality of the search will get better as the advertisers are competing for less space.

Google has completed the removal the right side of the ads and replaced with top/bottom ads on search results pages as of February 22, 2016. This update will provide more relevant results for people searching and better performance for advertisers.

Let’s Talk About What This Means for Your Business!

Contact Us to make an appointment with one of our digital experts to talk about Google’s latest update and what we can do to help your business on the Web.



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