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Google Has Removed Sidebar Ads: What This Means For SEO & PPC

2 mins read

Over the weekend, the SEO community was abuzz with the latest changes Google has been rolling out. Google has removed sidebar ads from the right side of search results and now they’ll just be up to four on top (and/or at the bottom). As this is quite a dramatic change, we’re going to have a closer look and discuss what this could mean for the future of SEO & PPC.

paid ads on right side bar gone

What’s changed?

Originally, Google Ads appeared at the top AND in the right sidebar. Now Google has switched to just having 4 ads on the top, and has completely removed the right sidebar ads.

If you’re hearing this for the first time, it sounds like a pretty shocking thing for Google to do. As the weekend has been full of chatter about it, we’ve highlighted some of the general discussion to find out if the changes are a good or a bad thing.

The potential implications

As the changes have just happened, we can only guess what this could mean for the future of Google search, but we've summed up the main potential implications:

  • As there will be less ad space, it’s likely the cost of bids will increase and be more competitive.
  • We know how important the top few spaces are in organic listings. With an additional ad being added in, organic searches are going to be pushed beneath four paid ads. This could potentially cause a decrease in organic traffic.
  • Removing the side bar ads, suggests Google is clearing space for more of Google’s Product Listing Ads.

Future of Google Search?

As you can see, organic search has really been pushed further down. Adverts now fill the user's instant view. We can see why some SEOs are concerned about the impact it could have on future organic search.


The four ads have pushed organic results down and Google's shopping ads have taken over the right side bar.

We’ve got some comments from our team here at Digital 22 and they’ve shared their insight on how this could affect SEO and PPC.

From Rikki, Head of Organic Search:

Rikki"From an SEO viewpoint you would initially assume going from 10 standard ads to 4 is a good thing but I am not convinced that is the way it will play out.

Firstly, ads at the top receive a much higher click through rate than those on the right. This could result in ads actually getting a higher click share, even with the reduced amount of ads available, due to positioning.

Secondly, Google certainly won't leave empty space in that right column. It's prime space for them to test with. They have already stated Product Listing Ads will be placed there and I would assume the Knowledge Graph area will continue to expand."

From Samuel, PPC Executive:

Samuel"While it's always refreshing to see Google constantly changing the platform, this change is a step-backwards in my opinion. As the removal of 10 spaces being mitigated by the addition of one (higher placed position), will drive up the first page bids and cause SMEs to be priced out of already highly-competitive markets.

Either way, the removal seems to be another step in Google's push to prioritise Google Shopping ads among the SERPs."

As the update is still rolling out, we can't confirm for certain if this is a brilliant or terrible decision by Google. But so far, we can tell many SEOs aren't ecstatic about the latest changes.

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