Google cleans up search results by ditching sidebar ads 04 March 2016

Google’s result pages are probably the most recognisable on the internet - and this week they changed completely. 



The search engine removed all PPC adverts from the right-hand side of search results, mirroring the layout of mobile browsing. It’s linked to a shift in consumer behaviour,
as more people access search engines on-the-go via mobile and tablet devices.

The change means only three paid-for advert slots are available, or four for “highly commercial” search queries.

The update has posed new questions for businesses and users alike, with many speculating that competition for advertising will be even fiercer and organic listings will be knocked down result pages.

But the changes have been long in the making, with Google running tests to ditch the sidebar ads since 2012, as explained in their statement released this week:

“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.”

Living Group’s Client Engagement Director, Hannah Gilmore commented: "With the reduction of paid adverts available, many businesses feared a sudden hike in cost-per-clicks, but it's been tested behind-the-scenes on a number of commercial search queries, which will negate any knee-jerk spikes to PPC costs.“

The removal of desktop sidebar ads is the latest in a long line of updates that favour mobile over traditional desktop browsing, making SEO more important than ever to strengthen organic search results.

Commenting on the change, Group Marketing Director, David King added: “From a user experience perspective, the negative could be that searchers want to see organic listings rather than too many ads at the top of the page. But the change will further blur the lines between mobile and desktop viewing, improving cohesion between both platforms.”

But what will Google do with all that white space? The minimal look-and-feel of Google’s search engine results may be more refined, but how long is it until other means of advertising begin to appear?

Interested in discussing your search marketing? Contact David King, Group Marketing Director on 020 7739 8899 or