Worldwide AdWords Update

No More Right-Side Ads, 4 Ads Now on Top

google adwords update - no sidebar PPC ads - February 2016

On Friday, Feb. 19, 2016, Google confirmed a major shift in their AdWords service, perhaps the most significant change since they first rolled out the program in 2000. The new desktop SERP (search engine results page) will now only display advertisements on the top and bottom of the page, giving it a more mobile feel.

Right-hand column ads are officially dead.

4-ad blocks now account for over 1/3 of all ad blocks.

The coveted fourth placement will be triggered for what Google is calling “highly commercial queries.” Google told Search Engine Land, “the layout is able to provide more relevant results for people searching and better performance for advertisers.”

AdWords Update - top ad blocks with 4 ads Figures based on 5,980 page-1 SERPs in Moz’s tracking data as of 2/19/2016.


Considering that more than half of Google’s searches happen on mobile, where this format has already taken effect, many people probably won’t notice a difference. It’s also important to realize that the ads at the top of the SERP page account for about 85% of all PPC clicks.

Figures based on around 2000 WordStream customer accounts, representing tens of millions of PPC clicks.


Google will continue to feature ads at the bottom of the SERP, but the total number of ads you will see will decrease from around 11 positions to no more than 7.

Ad placement on desktop search engines will go from around 11 positions to at most 7.

Like Mobilegeddon last year, this new Google update is nothing to panic over. In fact, this update is a good thing! The winner? PPC advertisers. The loser? Organic search. The main danger here is people. Bids will only increase if everyone panics and begins raising their bids.

Read more about the winners and losers of the new AdWords update.

VitalStorm strives for excellence with all of our clients. This Google Search revamp allows us to further innovate, apply new practices, and continue to peer beyond the curve. Its effects will be assessed on a client-by-client basis.

We will be providing more updates as we receive more information and results, but don’t expect a big change in your cost-per-click (CPC).

Additional information on Google’s new ad layout for desktop SERPs