As of Friday 19 February 2016, Google are no longer showing paid ads down the right-hand side of its search engine results pages (SERPs).

Ads will now only show at the top and bottom of SERPs, with the exception of Product Listing Ad (PLA) boxes, which will show either above or to the right of search results, and Ads in the Knowledge Panel.

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.”

It’s supposed the reasons for this change is partly due to poor click-through-rates (CTR) on the right hand side ads, as well as the desire to close the gap between desktop and mobile search.

What could this mean for your business?

  1. Expect it to be more difficult to rank highly using traditional search engine optimisation (SEO) alone, as organic space becomes even more limited. The top organic positions will most likely be fought over between big brands and aggregator sites, leaving little room for small and medium enterprises (SMEs).
  2. Average cost-per-click (CPC) rates are expected to rise across the board, as competition for the top paid positions increases.