Bespoken Management

Google Makes Drastic Changes to Search Result Pages

Most companies with a well-established digital presence are aware of the impact that paid ads can have on their digital marketing efforts. They can be a very effective method of increasing targeted traffic to your website. Some of the most widely used channels for paid ads are Google Adwords and popular social media platforms like Twitter or Facebook.

This week, Google has stopped showing ads on the right-hand sidebar of its results pages.  They will now be showing ads only above the organic results and at the bottom of the page. In place of the ads we have typically seen in the sidebar, there will be relevant product listing ad blocks and Knowledge Panels. These changes will lower the total number of ads that can appear on a SERP from 11 down to 7.


Removing ads from the sidebar makes a lot of sense when you think about how SERPs are viewed from a mobile device. After all, responsiveness is key. Adding a fourth ad to the top of the page on “highly commercial queries”  provides a number of benefits to advertisers like the ability to use ad extensions, that it looks more like an organic result than an ad, and it will make up for some of the lost sidebar clicks.

These changes also leave more room for Google’s Product Listing Ads and other features. They are designed to give users an even better experience and, hopefully, “better performance for advertisers.”


Nothing is certain yet, but advertisers are worried that fewer available ad spaces will mean higher demand and cost. Others think the new layout will have a more nuanced effect on CPCs.  They feel advertisers won’t be willing to spend as much for their ads to appear at the bottom of the page. To keep things in perspective, though, we should remember that the sidebar ads accounted for less than 15% of total desktop clicks. There shouldn’t be much if any negative change in the effectiveness of ads being placed.

In the end, these changes shouldn’t have too much of an impact if your company utilizes well-rounded digital marketing methods. Paid ads offer a strong sense of instant gratification in terms of ROI, but it is generally best to base efforts on other, long-term opportunities to create more substantial search traffic.

Balancing your marketing efforts between inbound marketing methods and paid ads, placing a high priority on building up SEO and influence through content creation is the best way to make sure you’re getting the most out of your digital marketing efforts.

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