Why has Google removed ads from the right side of their search results?

Nov 29

Back in February, Google made what many PPC and SEO commentators considered a groundbreaking move. Google decided to remove all ads from the right hand side of the search results. People envisaged disastrous consequences for advertisers and SEO gurus alike, as it would reduce the amount of information above the fold. At Us4Design, we have been looking back at the changes and seeing what effect, if any, they have really had.


It is perhaps best to start with why. Why did Google feel the need to make these changes? First and foremost, the answer has to be revenue. Google will have analysed the data and determined that the Adwords platform would be more profitable under the new format. In other words, a new format that encourages users to click on more ads than previously, increasing Google’s revenue. This is not the first time Google has made such a move: do you remember when there used to be a different background colour for ads? This is no more and the ads blend in far better with the organic search results.


However, Google has always prided itself on being an honest company and one that seeks to enhance the user experience above all else. The research that Google undoubtedly carried out and the data collected may have suggested that removing ads from the right hand side of the page would improve the browsing experience and relevance for searchers. What is more, the new look search results page now bears a more striking resemblance to Google’s homepage. Incidentally, that homepage is remarkably sparse for a company’s homepage, and always has been. It is Google’s image through and through.


Now that we have had the chance to analyse the results, it is safe to say that there has been relatively little change in PPC revenue for advertisers or traffic for the top results in the organic searches. It is fair to assume that Google has increased its revenue, but improvements in the user experience and the lack of harm done to businesses mean that this is hardly something to get annoyed about. Every other company will analyse the data from the Analytics account to increase clicks and revenue; why shouldn’t Google do it too?


At Us4Design, we see the changes as positive. The number of ads that appear on particular searches is tailored far more to the search query, and therefore more relevant. Only ‘highly commercial searches’, such as those for online shopping, hotels, or tradesmen, will show as many as four ads, while less commercial searches will show more organic results. The results have been positive for Google and the searcher, while businesses have remained unharmed. All in all, the decision has been a success.


Cover Image © TechnoGiants Blog, Flickr.