Google search homepage
Google has officially begun rolling out a dramatic update to its paid search layout.

As of last week, Google is phasing out right-hand gutter ads on its desktop SERPs. Instead, the search provider will only show 1–4 ads above the fold for particularly commercial queries and force the rest to the bottom of the results page.

The roll-out effects users worldwide and will align the desktop experience with the mobile experience, although whether the amount of ads shown to mobile users will increase has yet to be confirmed by Google.

For regular desktop users, the right-hand space will still be utilised for Product Listing Ads (PLAs), as well as Knowledge Graph Boxes, so you probably won’t notice too much of a difference on that front. However, the continual ‘pushing down’ of organic search listings will certainly be an issue for many.

For businesses, the change means that organic search space is even more precious than before – leading to an even stronger focus on SEO.

For paid advertisers, the change will drive average CPCs, as competition for the top search slots increases.

There is one positive change: there are now more organic results below the fold. In fact, in our average searches there are nine blue links and two stories, which is a definite improvement. Ultimately, this is still a case of too little content too low down.

At this point, Google’s decision appears to be somewhat commercially driven, it would be naive to think otherwise.

Managing Directer at BlueGlass, Kevin Gibbons believes the move is  He said: “The obvious answer is revenue and I’m sure that is a big factor. But I think it’s likely to be a balance between this, and a more modern, perhaps centered, search experience which reflects mobile vs. desktop and tablet results. Ultimately, changes like this have to be beneficial to the search experience, otherwise Google ends up chasing short-term revenue instead of long-term market share.”

According to The Media Image, the reason for this may well be because “Google has determined the average click-through rate for sidebar ads is poor compared to verticals, and the expected CPC inflation from this major change is projected to more profitable in the long run.”

Has Google gone too far in sacrificing its own user experience for the searcher?

Or will we eventually get to the point where the entire first SERP is filled with irritating ads and we instinctively click straight to the second result, in the same way we skip past YouTube pre-rolls?

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