Brett de Leijer

Posted by Brett de Leijer


Google AdWords Unveils Changes to Ad Positions

Google Removes Sidebar Ads From SERPs


Google Adwords has changed Ad Positions


Recently Google announced worldwide changes to desktop search results that will impact advertisers across the globe. They are removing sidebar ads for desktop SERPs. This means desktop will closely mirror mobile search result pages – with ads only appearing above or below organic search results.

Additionally Google will show an additional ad in the top ad section for “highly commercial queries”. So, the number will increase from 3 to 4 for top ad results.

There are two exceptions to this rule. Sidebar search results will still occur for:

  • Product Listing Ads (PLAs)
  • The Knowledge Panel (Google My Business Listings)

Google is still rolling out these changes so you may not notice them immediately. To illustrate how it will look, let’s compare search results for the keyword ‘wedding dresses’.


The Previous Google SERP with sidebar ads displayed
The previous Google SERP displays sidebar ads for ad positions 4-11 (all ads aren’t visible in screenshot) as well as 3 top ads and PLAs in the sidebar.


The new Google SERP has removed the sidebar ads
The new Google SERP has removed the sidebar ads. An extra ad is displayed in the top position and the PLAs are still visible in the sidebar.


The new Google SERP now displays extra ads below the organic results
Additionally the new Google SERP displays ads below the organic results. There are not as many bottom ads as there were in the sidebar and they are less visible to users.

How will Google SERP changes affect marketers?

  • Search ads with a position of less than four will likely experience a large drop off in CTRs due to removal of the ads on the right hand sidebar.
  • Bidding competition will increase to stay in the top four – potentially resulting in higher CPC’s.
  • As the competition increases, ensuring your ads are operating with a high quality score will become essential in gaining a competitive edge while not increasing CPC.
  • Using PLAs in your campaigns will become crucial as they will remain in the desktop sidebar ads. This will increase your products visibility and help you win out over competitors.
  • Google My Business listings are now even more vital for local business as they appear in the sidebar knowledge panel, as shown below. Verifying your account, filling in contact information, adding service categories and using appealing images will generate customer interest.
An example of a knowledge panel in the Google SERP
The Google Knowledge Panel displays essential business information to customers.