Google Remove Text Ads from Right Sidebar of Desktop Search Results

23 February, 2016

Google have confirmed that text ads will no longer be displayed in the right sidebar of their desktop search results. The announcement – which was made on Friday 19th February - represents a major shift in strategy from the tech giant.

Moving forward, the amount of text ads set to appear within the SERPs will be reduced from as many as eleven to a maximum of seven. Three or four ads will now appear at the top of the search results, whilst three ads will be shown at the base of them.

Using the query 'plumbing sheffield' as an example, in the image below you can see the top four ads displayed whilst the sidebar shows as blank.



With related testing dating back to 2010 – and reports of the new changes already taking effect over the past year – many advertisers are unlikely to be surprised by the announcement.

In the wake of the news, Google issued the following statement:

“We’ve been testing this layout for a long time, so some people might see it on a very small number of commercial queries.

“We’ll continue to make tweaks, but this is designed for highly commercial queries where the layout is able to provide more relevant results for people searching and better performance for advertisers.”

To help provide some further explanation, we’ve summarised the changes that you will now see play out:

  • All text ads have now been removed from the right-hand side of the search results.
  • The amount of ads appearing at the top of the SERPs will vary between three and four, depending on the nature of the query.
  • Four ads will be shown when Google feels the query is ‘highly commercial’. Google will decide this based on how likely they feel the user is to make a purchase.
  • Three ads will consistently be shown at the base of the SERPs.
  • There will be two exceptions where ads may appear in the right sidebar of the search results. The first will be when relevant Knowledge Panels are displayed, whilst the second will be when product listing ad blocks are shown.

Each of these features are now being phased in across They will also take effect across search partner sites that previously offered a sidebar section of ads.

Despite the move being long-anticipated by advertisers, there is now widespread discussion amongst PPC and SEO professionals about the exact impact it will have. With fewer ads being displayed, some are expecting to see a rise in their CPC, but it’s too soon to tell.

Impressions, cost-per-click and click-through-rate are all likely to be affected, but exactly how much is still open to speculation.

We’ll be keeping a keen eye on things over the next few months to ensure that we make any appropriate adjustments to our own clients' PPC campaigns.

Written by Sean

As chief crafter of copy, Sean’s flair for writing engaging content continues to prove integral to our internal and client marketing activity. With more than 5 years' digital experience, he joined Evoluted back in 2015. He spends his days managing SEO strategy, producing content and assisting Evoluted’s clients.

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