Google just announced that they are doing away with paid search ads along the right rail for desktop computers. This changes everything! Paid search is now more important than ever, and organic search listings (driven by SEO efforts) may be less valuable than ever before.

Here is what’s changed:

  • PPC ads will only be on the top and not the right rail
  • Only 4 ads will be shown on the top of page 1
    • Which means more competition
    • And more expense to advertisers
  • The right rail will either feature Product Listing Ads, knowledge boxes or be left blank

Here is what the new search results page looks like:

New Google SERP Feb 2016


Notice how the ads and the local map listings push the organic search results down below the fold.  Not good for those of us that have worked on SEO for so long. But the truth is, things change super fast in the world of digital marketing and if you can’t roll with the punches and keep up to date, you can’t win the race online.

From our view, search marketers and businesses have been the catalyst for Google’s growth. When we started providing online marketing services to Atlanta businesses in 2001, we had to educate customers on paid search channels like Overture and Google.  Things have changed, but this move feels a little greedy to us. Google is successful because they give people information and we think reducing the amount of information provided just for profit seems counter productive.

Chances are this won’t last long and something new will develop. Looking forward to seeing how this change impacts our clients and we are hopeful that it is not a negative experience.

Here is a article from AdAge with the announcement.