On 24 February, Google announced the block suppression of Adwords sponsored ads in the right column and, in parallel, the addition of one supplementary ad at the top, bringing the number of top premium ads to 4. The visibility of the organic ads being buried at the same time behind the “advertising” block.
In order to better understand the impact of the right Adwords block suppression on the composition of pages, two weeks ago we released a small SERP study on Google.fr.
An increase between 40 and 400 percent in the number of ads at the bottom
To obtain a very quick view of the evolution of Adwords ads in Google SERP (Search Engine Results pages), we used the myposeo SEO rank tracking tool that tracks on all keywords for which the ranking is monitored, and gives a detailed analysis of the first Google page and its composition.
We followed two set of 600 keywords with two themes. The first one specific enough in the SEO field (linked to our watch on SEO tools), and the second, in a competitive sector, as we are in energy (oil, gas etc.) This mini study focuses on the SERP analysis of the first page for keywords having a total volume about 300,000 searches per month.
The three graphs below show daily the addition of the number of current ads to the entire 600 expressions tracked and only for the first page of Google.fr. It must be understood that some keywords potentially have no Adwords ads displayed, while others may trigger in the upper right and at the bottom.
Here are the results:
Removing Adwords at the right, hello Shopping results
The results are substantially similar as regard the Google AdWords ads suppression to the right of the results page (almost no AdWords ads research display yet). So we went from 7, 8 and sometimes 9 ads to 0 to make room today for Google Shopping results:
Increase (or not) AdWords results at the top of the page
According to the business sector, we can see the increase in the number of ads at the top of the page was not so great despite the removal of ads to the right. This is related to the business sector because previously there were 2 or 3 ads at the top of the results page of keywords for the domain around SEO, which what was not the case for the competitive sector where many keywords had previously displayed 3 Adwords.
So overall, we notice an increase of 40% of the number of Adwords ads at the top of the page, across all keywords. Not all pages display 4 Adwords results but the majority of the keywords that showed 3 now display 4 (92%).
Explosion in the number of Adwords ads at the bottom of the page!
It was necessary to reclassify all these unused right column ads, so it is mostly at the BOTTOM that Google has decided to display them. With about 200 or 250 displayed ads with 600 analysed keywords, the first page displays 150 to 400% more ads than before. Usually very empty, the footer has increased from zero to three ads for almost all the keywords that ads to the right previously possessed.
Lengthen pages, organic visibility, decrease in the number of ads by page
Not all pages containing three premium ads have gone to four. However, we notice an overall reduction in the number of ads present on average on a page because there are only 7 to 8 places against 10 to11 previously, and it was necessary to compensate by adding Google Shopping results again, to the top page or to the right.
The first organic position also took a smaller hit in terms of visibility because, with the appearance of the shopping results and the fourth Adwords ad on certain keywords, there sometimes remains only a single ad visible above the long tail, but the assessment is divided.
In equal position (1st position) and because of adding an extra ad, we notice a reduction of 143 pixels on average for the first organic ad displayed, which almost matches the size of the new displayed ad. However, no SERPs have integrated this new ad and, for those that have seen the shopping results passing to the right without an increase in the number of Adwords, we have even noticed a rise in the first organic result on average of 126 pixels!
Impact on organic click-through rate?
Currently, it is not yet possible to conclude the impact of these modifications on the CTR of organic results. Firstly, because the changes are not complete, and also because the database for this purpose is not still accessible, in particular the Search console and Google Adwords (search volume) data which are calculated during the two months that follow.
Although first impressions may lead you to think that the visibility of SEO results is going to decrease, we realize that this may be the case for very competitive requests, but can be not completely sure about the more long-tail expressions, and that even more work will be required.
The future will give us more precise conclusions and we will try to publish a more comprehensive study as soon as possible. Have you personally noticed any sharp changes (increases/decreases) in your organic traffic since the update?
Marketing manager @myposeo, community manager and writer.