Google AdWords – Side Ads Are GONE

Google AdWords

Google hasn’t officially announced it yet, but this may be one of THE biggest changes to occur to your Google AdWords and SEO campaign. We’re talking about the death of Google’s right-hand side ads – the ones that appear on the right of Google searches. We’ll keep you in the loop as we await new updates from Google, but here’s what you need to know:

  • Google has removed all right hand side ads from desktop searches, and increased  the ads shown in the top space to four.
  • All ads which were previously in rank five or more are pushed to the bottom of results, or disappear altogether.


On an arbitrary search for “training software” we see that ads on the right-hand side have already disappeared. Note that even in full-screen mode, only the top 3 organic search results show up for this term.

Search Results

This doesn’t mean that competition isn’t fierce for the “training software” keyword. At the bottom of the page we see 3 additional ads that used to be on the right-hand side of the page. Now, they have next to no visibility at all.

What Does This Mean?

This change affects you even if you are not a current Google advertiser. With 4 ads at the top of each search, coupled with Google map results, there’s actually very little space where organic search results can be seen on a typical desktop screen. This means that if you’re used to being at the bottom of the first page of search results, your overall impressions WILL drop significantly.

Here’s a breakdown of what this change means to your paid and organic campaigns:

  1. Paid Google Ads – If you’re not in the top 4 ad positions for Google AdWords, your impressions are going to suffer greatly. On the other hand, if you’re in the top 4 results, the likelihood of your ad being clicked on is going to increase dramatically.
  2. Organic – If you’re not ranking in the top 3 spots for organic SEO, your overall traffic is going to dive.
  3. Local – With organic search real estate being so precious, your Google Maps results are more important than ever. These results automatically appear above organic search results and below the top 4 ads – making your Google Profiles even more important to your business visibility.

While this is excellent news for the top-ranking ad and organic search spaces, you’re in for a rough time if your search results tend to settle in the middle or bottom of organic search spaces.

Google — Pay to Play?

Google’s adopting a method that heavily favours the top performers while punishing the rest. Go hard or go home – that’s the message that Google is sending. If you’re not already in the top spot for SEO, you should consider paid ads as organic visibility is being pushed to the bottom. If you have paid ads are not in the top 4 positions, you have to make sure you get there. Competition is going to be more fierce, but that shouldn’t stop you. Now’s the time to amp up your game – increase the relevancy of your content and ads, create compelling messages, and be even more targeted than before.

We’ll be updating this blog post as we run more tests and keep an eye out for Google’s official statement(s) on the subject. Let us know on Facebook or Twitter if you have any questions or comments, or contact our marketing agency in downtown Vancouver. We always have chocolate.