What Changed with Google SERPS?

If you are of the 1/3 of world users who use Bing, you probably haven’t noticed, but Google has stopped advertising to the right of its search results on desktop computers.


Up to now, users were seeing ads at the top of search results, then a few ads going down the right side of the screen, and occasionally an ad or two at the bottom of the screen. It has been this way for many years. Given the longevity of the old format, this change is a bit jarring, especially to the advertisers.

Like most people, you may be wondering why Google decided to make this change. The truth is that Google is always experimenting with the search results pages. They have always been tinkering with the number of ads to show, whether or not to display the knowledge graph or local results, and even the number of organic results on each page. If you’re curious about the ways Google changes search results pages, Moz has a tool (http://mozcast.com/features) that allows you to explore what features are used for which type of results over time.

This particular change is more than a temporary test, as Google has announced that these changes are not experimental; this will be a permanent part of the search engine results pages landscape moving forward. To be more specific, Google has mentioned the following changes:

  1. Removal of side ads
  2. Three or four PPC ads at the top of the page. Three for most queries and four for “highly commercial queries”
  3. Ads maybe placed in the knowledge graph panel and in product listing ad boxes
  4. Ads will also be located beneath the organic search results

This change may have far-reaching consequences for Google AdWords advertisers. Eliminating the side ads will limit the inventory of PPC ad space. As supply and demand goes, this will likely cause –pay-per-click prices to increase, but it’s still uncertain by how much.  Certainly there will be fewer impressions available. Since most of the time searchers don’t click the lower ranking ads that appeared on the right, there has always been competition for the top slots. Unfortunately, due to this change, the competition for those slots will increase along with the cost of the ads in those positions.

Only time will tell the exact impact of this change. To a large extent, Google has downplayed it with a “not to worry” attitude. Still this translates to a call for advertisers to work harder for effective, efficient, and smart advertising.

As a Google Partner, the Millennium team has the experience to help make sure your AdWords advertising budget is spent wisely. We have found that there is no better form of paid advertising to reach customers actively searching for your services or products. If you’re concerned about the status of your account, contact us, and we will give you a FREE hour consultation to review your current status and provide recommendations.