What the Latest Change in Google Ads Layout Means for You

There are three certainties in life. Death, taxes, and Google keeping marketers on their toes. If you’ve been paying attention the past few months, Google has been testing placement of four ads instead of three above the organic listings on the search results pages and removing all of the ads on the right-hand side of the results.

What are the Specifics?

  1. There are now four text ads instead of three for what Google considers to be highly commercial queries—meaning that not all searches will results in four ads above the organic listings
  2. All of the ads on the right side are going away.
  3. There will be up to three text ads at the bottom of the search results pages.
  4. Before this change, there were as many as eleven paid ads delivered for a search. This update will shrink that number down to seven.
  5. Highly commercial queries are terms.

Screenshot of an example of Google Ads new layout.

With this change, businesses and marketers are all very interested in how this will affect the landscape. Some think that this may drive up cost-per-clicks for campaigns and make paid search more expensive; others believe that this will actually make it more cost effective for premium placement above the organic listings and perhaps reduce budgets depending on goals and strategies.

I personally believe this change will result in quality scores becoming even more significant in their AdRank factor. Google wants consumers to use it to find what they are looking for. To get a greater number of users to click on the paid ads, they will need to ensure the quality of the landing pages and experiences these ads deliver. If you don’t know the quality score of your keywords and how that might be affecting your campaigns, you should consider making that a priority.

Does This New Google Ads Layout Kill SEO?

Does this change signify the end of importance for search engine optimization? I have heard this argument since the announcement, and it continues to perpetuate the SEO vs. SEM battle that has remained a marketing conversation for years.

What I always tell people to remember is that SEO and SEM are complementary. Both are going after the same audiences: shoppers or consumers who want to buy or consume the products and services you are delivering. There are key strategies to do this through SEO and highly optimized campaigns to garner these eyeballs with SEM. If you’re not doing both, you are missing out on opportunities to get your company in front of people who are interested in what you have to offer.

Use your SEO data to power your SEM data and vice versa.

What Steps Should You Take?

  • Be sure that you are measuring success for both your paid and organic strategies, and learn how this changes affects both of these crucial aspects of digital marketing.
  • If you want visibility in paid search, ensure that you are maintaining an average position in the top three or four ads, depending on how commercial the search queries are for the keywords you are buying.
  • For both paid and organic, be sure that you have a content strategy that is building landing pages specifically built around the queries people are searching that demonstrate intent to buy or use your offerings.
  • Be sure that these landing pages are converting and continue to leverage Google Analytics data to drive more results out of your traffic, especially if these shifts lead to overall traffic decreases for your business.


We will all know much more about how Google Ads’ latest change will affect the landscape in the coming weeks. And this won’t be their last update, of that we can be certain.

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