Google will no longer display ads on the right-hand sidebar of desktop search engine results pages (SERPs). Instead, the ads will be displayed above the fold, with 1- 4 of them placed at the top of each page. The rest of the ads will be pushed to the bottom of the SERP.
According to sources from inside Google, the rollout is now official. Users worldwide will now see this dramatic update to the tech giant’s desktop paid search layout. And the rollout is set to continue through the next couple of weeks.
So far, Google has not given any official communication in this regard. As it stands, the company may only confirm the update retroactively.
The SEM Post has however noted that various AdWords executives have confirmed the update. According to them, this update is permanent and global.
This update has immensely affected general and high volume search terms. In the coming weeks, niche terms and long-tail ads will begin to disappear.
The desktop traffic is likely to be affected in more ways than we have mentioned, as the update is limited only to desktop SERPs, the search results pages. Ads appearing after the third or fourth position on the search results may begin to experience a reduced click-through rate.
So far, your desktop search results will look more like those of your mobile devices. The layout of mobile ads will remain unaffected by the update, perhaps only for the time being.
This rollout is the culmination of a test that started way back in 2010. Google has been tweaking it over the years.
A post on Search Engine Land indicates that web users, particularly outside the United States, already started seeing the change more frequently towards the end of 2015.
Exception on the Update
Google has said it may show an additional ad (fourth) — above its search results in cases of ‘highly 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.
This means that for most searches, the popular number of ads (above the fold) will remain three. The less commercial queries might not really return with any of the ads at all.
Also, the company has confirmed that Product Listing Ad (PLA) boxes will continue to show both above and to the right of search results.
According to a Google representative, the phase-out is currently rolling out on all desktop searches in all languages across the world.
The full extent to which this new and continuing development will affect search quality and desktop AdWords remains to be assessed within the coming weeks.