March 03 2016

Last week, Google did away with right-hand ads as part of their search results as another effort for designing for mobile. There are a few exceptions to this rule with Product Listing Ads and ads that may show as part of the Knowledge Graph. While this offers a cleaner look more consistent with mobile, as many as 4 traditional text ads have been reduced from search results. However, there is now potential for a 4th ad to insert its way into the top of search results. Even though a 4th ad is possible, the implications are clear from a PPC standpoint that there’s now less real estate on search result pages than there was before.

The Organic Impact

It’s easy to think that this only impacts the paid search side of things, but at TopSpot we take an integrated approach and think about everything as a whole. With the addition of a 4th ad in many search results, organic results are pushed down, with some cases that display only a sliver of the result above the fold, or completely below the fold.

google removes right ads

This image illustrates some of the most popular desktop screen sizes and their relative “folds.”

Previously where we may have seen 3-4 organic results for some searches above the fold, we may only begin to see 1-2 organic listings with an extra ad at the top or space being taken by PLAs. The impact is also significant on mobile where space is already limited by screen size. Similarly to the impact on paid search, this creates more competition above the fold for organic listings.

serp mobile

This example shows 2 ads within one view on an iPhone 6s. If it displays 4 total ads, this results pages requires 3 swipes to get to an organic listing.


What Should I Do?

With both spaces becoming more competitive for visibility at the top, it’s more important than ever to look at SEO and PPC as internet marketing strategies that can (and should) work together. We’ll dive into this deeply in the third and final post of this series but below is a preview.

One of the biggest areas to have both SEO and PPC work together and for each other is in your website’s content. While we can’t control the changes that Google makes to their results pages, we can control what’s on our own websites and the quality and relevance of the content in relation to the user. This in turn aligns and supports SEO and PPC strategies that you may have in place.


When you focus on creating great content for your products and/or services, you create an opportunity for better organic visibility. Quality content on your website not only helps SEO but can make your AdWords program run better with potential benefits like higher quality scores, which could results in lower cost-per-clicks, which could make your budget stretch a little farther for more visibility. See where I’m headed?

No matter how far organic listings get pushed down and how much more space PPC ads take, content continues to be a factor website owners can control and improve upon to be competitive in their space. But the benefits don’t stop there. When you create great content focused on your users, you’re also contributing to their customer experience, which ultimately helps you drive leads, sales and loyal customers.