Last week Google made a significant change in the way ads are displayed in desktop search results.  SmartSearch is monitoring our clients’ search programs on a frequent and thorough basis in order to determine how this change is impacting paid search results.  Key facts about the change are summarized here…

A long-running Google test is now officially being permanently implemented for all desktop searches. Google will no longer show ads to the right of its search results. Rather, ads will show only at the top and/or bottom of the page. The elimination of right-side ads impacts all desktop searches worldwide and makes desktop and mobile search results more similar.


Summary of AdWords changes:

  • No text ads will be served on the right rail of desktop search results pages.
  • Google will serve either three or four text ads above the organic listings.
  • Up to three text ads will show at the bottom of the results page.
  • The total number of text ads that can appear on a page will shrink from as many as 11 to a maximum of seven. Therefore, ad impressions will likely decrease and cost-per-click may increase for top ad positions.
  • These updates are rolling out permanently worldwide on both and search partners.
  • This could pose a significant challenge in highly competitive marketplaces, especially where smaller firms are trying to compete against companies with large budgets.
  • Organic results may be impacted.  If four ads are displayed at the top of the page organic listings are pushed further down (in some cases below the fold).
  • This will make the Knowledge Graph (informative data that still shows for some search queries on the right side of the search results) and local listings an important part of organic search marketing programs.
  • Now all ads (above and below organic listings) can use call-out extensions, sitelink extensions, location extensions, etc., which were previously only a benefit of top-of-page ads.

Here are some additional industry resources:

Stay tuned…. Over the next few weeks and months we will be reporting on how this change impacts our clients’ paid search results.

About the Author

Patricia Hursh

Patricia Hursh is the president and founder of SmartSearch Marketing. Today she leads the Client Services division of the agency. She specializes developing digital strategies and full-funnel marketing solutions for B2B companies. Patricia leads multi-functional teams to ensure bottom-line business results for SmartSearch Marketing’s clients.

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