Google Make Changes to Sponsored Links Display

Over the past few months, Google have been experimenting with the amount of sponsored adverts included on the top of each search engine results page (SERP).
Traditionally, a SERP would include one, two or three adverts above the natural listings. However, since the beginning of the year, a lot of commercial searches have been including up to four adverts.
According to data from MozCast, the testing was found on around 1{4d2303c3d7018ed3e1a955ec2105d2bcecc5b881e14ee890535c5ae577f46e7a} of SERPs. But their findings show a sharp spike on 18th Feb. The dramatic increase goes from 1{4d2303c3d7018ed3e1a955ec2105d2bcecc5b881e14ee890535c5ae577f46e7a} to 19{4d2303c3d7018ed3e1a955ec2105d2bcecc5b881e14ee890535c5ae577f46e7a} of all search engine results tested showing four ads.
These results show that the 4 ad-block has overtaken the 2 ad-block, and with one-fifth of all searches now displaying the extended blocks, it is presumed that Google may be coming to the end of their sponsored links display experiment.
Here’s an example of the new display. If we look at the keyword “car hire”:
Google Make Changes to Sponsored Links Display From
It’s interesting to note that localised results, “car hire London”, “car hire Glasgow” for the same keyword are still displaying three ads or less – at least in the week ending 21st February.
Sponsored links: Right hand v bottom position
Another change is the testing of right hand column ads and bottom block ads. Data, from MozCast again, gathered since January shows a drop in the number of right hand ads and an increase in bottom block results. Google is now displaying an equal number of ads on both positions. Previously, right hand ads far out numbered the bottom positions.
This could point to Google designing their results for a mobile-friendly screen. At the moments, right hand results do not display on smart phones.
The introduction of knowledge panels (the wiki-style info block introduced in 2012) pushes the right hand adverts down to below the fold.
This is all still subject to change, but it should be interesting to see what decisions Google make to keep their results relevant.

The founder of Attwood Digital, Mark is a digital marketing veteran having been working online since before the dotcom boom. He created the world's first online skip hire service in 2003, has created multiple online courses, lectured on digital marketing and even written a book on the subject. He is also an ICO advisor and crypto-enthusiast.
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