It’s been widely reported that as of 19th February Google removed all right hand side ads on SERPs (search engine results page) with adverts now only appearing at the top and bottom.

Commentary of this latest update from Google suggests it will affect pretty much everyone with the result being that desktop search results will now more closely resemble that of mobile search results, especially if the number of ads increases, but this hasn’t been confirmed. The right-hand space will give way to product listings, and knowledge graphs.

Here’s the clanger. These changes will inevitably mean that organic listings will continue to be pushed down the page, which is frustrating for digital marketers like us here at Browser Media HQ. However ‘every cloud…’: this pressure on organic space in SERPs means focussing even more on your SEO and, especially for digital marketing agencies like us, turning up the creativity a notch (which is no bad thing). As a result of these changes there are now more organic search results, nine links and two news stories to be exact. What you’ll see below (image 1) however does suggest that more of these organic search results are below the fold.

If you’re not already doing so, it’s time to make your organic listing stand out so you can at least try to compete with paid ads:

  • sitelinks
  • page titles and meta descriptions
  • search engine friendly urls
  • optimise for local

Alas, it’s not such a bright outlook for PPC users as cost per click (CPCs) will likely see an increase as we hustle and jostle for the top spot.

Ashleigh, Head of Biddable Media had this to say about why Google has chosen to limit advertising space:

“It has been said that Google realises that the CTR (click through rate) for the right hand side ads is poor, so has therefore decided to remove them in their entirety and that there will sometimes be four ads appearing at the top of the page from now on.This simply means that advertisers are going to fight harder for those top three (or four) spaces and therefore click costs are going to increase. Also with four ads at the top there are going to be consequences for organic results as they are being shoved further and further down toward the fold – making it more desirable to bid for those top spots -‘winning’ in the natural results will become less and less important as it’s going to be harder to be seen there.”

Here’s a search for ‘seo’ before and after…

SERPs BEFORE - Google Ads - Browser Media

SERPs Before – via

SERPs AFTER - Google Ads - Browser Media

SERPS After – via

So, do you care? As users, probably not. Fast forward a few weeks if not days and I’m sure we’ll all be instinctively scrolling a little bit further down page one or, like me, learn to venture onto page two or even…if you’re brave enough page three!

But, should you care? Definitely. This type of Google update would be easy to shrug off and roll with the punches, but maybe, just maybe, this is the excuse, nay, the reason you need to kick-start that long awaited campaign or pick up the phone and give your local SEO agency a call.