Huge Google Update

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The Biggest Change To The Google PPC Program Since 2000

by | Nov 25, 2016 | Blog

If you have noticed some changes to Google’s landscape, you are not seeing things. Google has completely removed all ads on the right side of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP).


This is live now! Ads will now only show at the top and bottom of the Search Engine Results Page (SERP). Google will change the number of ads on the top of the page from three to four, thus further pushing down organic listings to make room for paid listings at the top.
This roll-out will affect users worldwide in all languages and will bring the desktop experience closer to the mobile experience, although whether the amount of ads shown to mobile users will increase hasn’t been confirmed.

Here’s What Has Been Confirmed:

  1. No text ads will be served on the right rail of the search results on desktop.
  2. Google will serve four text ads instead of three in the mainline area above the organic listings.
  3. Three text ads will show at the bottom of the SERPs.
  4. The total number of text ads that can appear on a SERP will shrink from as many as 11 to a maximum of seven.
  5. They have also added a 3rd ad listing to the top of the results on a mobile device, which is a pretty big change.

Why Is Google Doing This?

  1. It makes their desktop results more in line with the mobile results. By next year mobile traffic will account for more than half of all searches preformed on Google. That is the world we are not marketing in.
  2. Right hand column ads were always low performing, getting less than 15% of the clicks across multiple verticals.
  3. It also urges advertisers to use ad extensions to improve user experience. Pool Builder Lead Rocket clients have been enjoying the benefits from Ad Extensions for years, however this new change basically forces other brands running PPC ads on top of the page to adopt and implement ad extensions. For more information on this, go here to read more about Google Ad Extensions.
  4. Lastly, they continue to de-emphasise organic search (SEO). We’ve known forever that Google doesn’t want you running SEO. More importantly, they don’t want you spending your advertising dollars with an SEO guy. They want you spending their ad dollars with GOOGLE. As you can see in the screenshot above, there is only one organic listing above the fold, and barely!

So What Does This Mean For Paid Search Marketers?

For Paid Search advertisers the change will certainly drive up demand to be in those top four ad positions on desktops and laptops. This could result in higher costs per click, but we will see. Since they are changing the 11 PPC slots above the fold, to four slots at the top of the page and three slots at the bottom of the page, it is unclear whether advertisers are willing to bid as much for the bottom slots as they used to bid for the slots on the right.

For mobile, they have changed from only showing two ads at the top of the page, to now showing three. This is a pretty big opportunity for mobile advertisers that were having difficulty bidding against the competitors in the #1 and #2 spots.

IMG 4904


Keep Calm. Analysis shows the side ads were less than 15% of total desktop clicks, meaning 85% of the clicks were coming from the top spots anyway, and now there is one more top spot on desktops, and one more spot available on mobile. So some paid search companies are actually counting this as a ‘win’ for advertisers. Some advertisers are bracing for huge cost per click increases; however, time will tell. The only conclusion we can gather is that the clear loser here is organic search.”

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