4 answers to questions on Google’s new ad layout
On February 19, 2016 Google changed their adwords offering, significantly. The search engine confirmed there will be no more text ads running down the right side of the browser on desktop devices. Instead there will now be four ads before the organic search results.
This change has sparked many questions about the impact a move like this will have for brands.
Here are our answers to the four questions we’ve been asked the most.
What exactly has changed?
The change affects only Google and partners search results and will take effect immediately on all desktop devices. The biggest change is that there will be no more ads on the right side of the SERPs. The second biggest change is there will now be a 4/3 split of ads in SERPs, meaning there will be more space (exactly 4 instead of 3) for ‘highly commercial searches’ at the top and 3 ads at the bottom.
This change does mean there will be a maximum number of ads on the SERPs of 7 rather than the previous 11.
Was this unexpected?
To be entirely truthful, no. The change had been in the background for quite some time and a sign of this was the continuous testing of many different ad layouts during the years. The first time Google started testing their ad layout was in 2010. It also appears that some users reported seeing four ads last year on some search terms and no ads on the right side.
Is this good or bad?
It is hard to say whether it will have a positive or negative effect. We would expect to see a higher amount of traffic going to sites than are ranked at number 1 in SERPs, especially as the addition of a new PPC slot has pushed organic results further down. In a normal browser window, this new Google Ads slot means that organic results are now lower, and will probably be considered ‘below the fold’ on most normal browser windows.
Below the fold content is notorious for receiving less clicks, so will we see a higher level of traffic to PPC results, rather than SEO? We’ll be monitoring this closely.
The change is already in place and is rolling out across all Google partners as well. Google has made this change globally and it will affect all countries.
The real question here is what will be replacing the missing ads on the right? An expansion of the knowledge graph is to be expected and more dedicated slots for shopping results. Google has also been implementing some new information cards on the right and as time goes by we believe these will become more frequent.
Last but not least we believe there won’t be too much of a difference for organic traffic numbers as confirmed by Rand Fishkin from MOZ:
Spot-checking, & since Feb. 19th’s shift to 4-ads-on-top (https://t.co/c7zlmZtlAM) I see no loss of organic Google traffic to Moz pages
— Rand Fishkin (@randfish) February 24, 2016