Google Removes All Right-Side Advertisements, but is Google’s removal of right side ads going to affect your business?

google removes right side ads

As you may have noticed, Google has dropped the right-side advertisements from its search results. For years now, the search engine giant has displayed Adwords ads at the top of its search listings, and to the right. What does this new change mean for your website listings and search ads?


Given the fact that Google has used its existing format for years now, some people are wondering why the change. As SearchEngineLand reported;


A Google spokesperson has confirmed to Search Engine Land that the change is now rolling out to all searches in all languages worldwide. Ads will not appear on the right side of desktop search results, with two exceptions:


  1. Product Listing Ad (PLA) boxes, which show either above or to the right of search results
  2. ads in the Knowledge Panel


The additional fourth ad that may show above the search results will only show up for highly commercial queries, according to Google’s official statement on the change:


“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.”


There was also speculation that the right side ads simply didn’t perform as Google wanted which motivated the change up. In an article published by The-Media-Image, it was revealed that right-side advertisements yield a lower click-through rate (CTR) when compared to top and bottom ads. “One potential reason for limiting the amount of advertisers on the SERP might be that Google has determined the average CTR for the RHS ads is poor across verticals, and the expected CPC inflation from this major change is projected to more profitable in the long run, we suspect,” explained The-Media-Image.


Of course, this should come as little-to-no surprise to anyone who’s advertised on Google Adwords. The upper-most ads almost always yield the highest CTR, and subsequently, higher conversion rates and Quality Scores. This has led many advertisers to get into bidding wars in which two or more advertisers continue to raise bid prices in an effort of scoring the coveted #1 spot.

Here’s a search for ‘london hotel’ carried out two days ago…

london hotel Google Search with right hand side ads

And here is the same search today…

london hotel Google Search

But there are some potential drawbacks to this change, one of which is the limitation of ad space. By cutting away the right-side ads, there’s less space available for advertisers to purchase, which could hinder some brands’ ability to promote their respective products and services.


The topic on this at Google AdWords Help is “Bye bye small businesses.” The folks at WebmasterWorld are saying “what a mess” and the Local Search Forums aren’t into the organic results being pushed down even more.


This is a pretty big shake up in the SERPS; with one less organic listing showing above the fold and a glaring empty space to the right. However, the biggest impact may be in the Ecommerce realm. Adding a fourth ad at the top while eliminating right side text ads is going to push online retailers to get more aggressive with paid listings and make Product Listing Ads (PLA’s) even more valuable.

Don’t get too depressed though… Google’s made big changes before and it doesn’t necessarily mean doom and gloom. I like Larry Kim’s more uplifting outlook on the whole thing in his comments from a recent SEW post:


We did some actual analysis here and what I can tell you is that Side Ad and Bottom ads account for 14.6% of total click volume (this is looking across thousands of accounts). Keep in mind that ‘Bottom of Page Ads’ aren’t going away. So, for starters, we’re talking less than 14.6% of clicks impacted by the change.





Now, those “lost” impressions and clicks can more than be made up by A) the addition of the new fourth ad spot B) 78% of SERPS have fewer than 4 ads above the organic results – there’s plenty of room for that to go down and C) the addition of up to four ads below the organic search results. It’s like we just re-organized the naming of ad positions.



Undoubtedly, this change is another step towards making SEO a much harder way to wrangle good search positions, but if you’re focusing on a broader marketing strategy then you should be able to roll with these changes with little impact to your advertising budget.