On Friday 19 February you may have noticed a slight change to the Search Results Page and in particular the ads that appear.

Google has stopped showing ads on the side of the page and is now only show ads at the top and bottom of the search results page.

Google's new search emgine results without the sidebar

As you can see the right hand side looks quite bare. It would seem to suggest that Google’s ‘mobile-first’ strategy will start to pull mobile and desktop searches much closer together in future.

What has changed?

  • No text ads will appear on the right rail of the search results on desktop.
  • Google will increase ads at the top of the page from 3 to 4 for “highly commercial queries”.
  • A maximum of 3 Ads will show at the bottom of the SERPs.
  • Fewer text ads will appear on a SERP. This will shrink from as maximum of 11 to a maximum of 7.

What does this mean for marketers and users?

  • Organic listings continue to be pushed further down.
  • SEO continues to become harder.
  • Increased push towards paid ads
  • Increased PPC as more advertisers fight for few slots.

The point about the increased costs of bids for PPC ads is already a much-discussed topic.

The following chart illustrates the click-through rates for ads that appear at the top and the bottom (‘other’).

Google PPC Adwords just got more competitive!

As you can see Advertisers will be clamouring to ensure their ads appear at the top of the page. And, in my mind that will mean an increase to the bids.

Nothing every stays the same in the world of Google for very long. This will be another element to consider if you are using PPC.