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AdWords and Google’s organic results blur further

By Mark Hudson
March 3, 2016

Google confirmed in February 2016 that their search results pages on desktop computers will no longer show AdWords in the right sidebar. In fact there will be no righthand bar from now on at all.

Do you care? Do you even recall the old right hand column? Or know what of how to get Google AdWords appearing for you?

Until recently up to three Adwords advert links would appear above your main search results in Google. A further section, clearly highlighted as text adverts, would appear in a thin right hand column to the side of the main results.

New Changes

The new changes now mean up to four text ads will display above the genuine result listings. A further three text adverts will show at the bottom of the page. Take a look at this screen shot, where we have highlighted the new Google Adword locations, and now nonexistent right hand column:

Google Adwords Layout Changes - Feb 2016

Google Adword Layout Changes – Feb 2016

From a Search Engine Optimisation (SEO) point of view, and simply judging from the amount of spam emails we all get claiming number one in the Google rankings in 5 minutes, SEO is a huge industry, this is a huge change.

Visually, and as a result the functionality, the blend between paid for adverts and organic results are blurring even further. Now the top results will likely always be paid for adverts pushing genuine pages results, featuring content you searched for, further down the page.

Did you ever click on links in the righthand column? Had you just zoned out and was oblivious to them?

If your answer is ‘no’ or ‘rarely’, it is understandable why Google have made this change. Google continually analyse users movement round the pages with heat maps showing where users clicked more frequently. The old right hand column featuring the old AdWords, got very few clicks in comparison to the main results block. Clearly people treated the top of the search results, as their goto place. No coincidence this is the main place the adverts appear now, and in larger numbers.

SEO Community up in Arms

Naturally much of the SEO community are up in arms, claiming Google have broke the industry (again).

The full impact on companies not paying for Google’s AdWords, which lets be honest is most of us, won’t become clear for a while. And you can be sure there will be multitudes of people analysing it all from click rates to heat maps of users experiences on Google’s results pages.

However, the truth of the matter is not much has changed!
If you want your company to appear at the top of Google results in your chosen search, you have to pay for it.

This philosophy remains the same, and as disappointing as this is, it isn’t going to change. As the line between paid for ads and genuine results blur together further, there seems to be something the SEO community appearing to be failing to do. Namely, give the everyday users a bit of credit.

Contrary to what many preach, most people are not afraid to scroll down a page to get to results that look more relevant. Most are also aware that if there is small yellow block next to the result say ‘Ad’ it is there because it is paying to be.

The average user can then process if this Advert is a good thing, relevant to them or even to be avoided.

Keep Calm and Carry On

So regards to you, as a normal consumer or website owner, carry on.

Without organic search results AdWords would take a massive hit. No Google user wants to be faced with only adverts . All Google are attempting to do is find that perfect balance of adverts and genuine results.

Is this change, a change too far? Maybe; time will tell. However, for the majority of web users, life continues as normal.

And the sad truth is, web adverts are going to be eating into our web experiences even more in the coming months. With all the major social media companies starting to incorporate ‘Buy’ buttons into their setup over the coming months. Look out for our upcoming blog on this subject soon.

As web users we have always had to decide what is relevant and what can be ignored. This will only get more difficult as advert elements encroach our daily web travels. However, with all the training we’ve had over the years, we should be able to cope just fine.

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