With half of all mobile searches done in the hope of finding local results, and 61% ending in a purchase, it’s no wonder that Google changed the layout of their platform to reflect the increased use of mobile devices to browse the Internet.
Just this week, Google made a serious shift in its bedrock search page. Ads on the right side were removed, and four ads above the unpaid or “organic” listings were added.
The change is seen as a push from Google to encourage advertisers to cater more towards handheld devices, where most searches now happen.
The more limited space for ads should drive up the prices of coveted spots for advertisers. Google’s share of revenue per search ad has decreased of late, so this latest move is also a bid for cash.
Shreya Kushari, SVP of search marketing for DigitalLBi, an ad agency, said “Our cost-per-clicks are going to go up because we’re going to bid aggressively to be on the first four.”
The changes were picked up on Friday by a few search blogs. Results with four ads went from around 2% of searches to one out of five, or 20%, says data from online marketing firm Moz.
Google has been testing search engine results pages with four ads for the last couple of months.
A Google representative confirmed that the right-side ads are out: “We’ll continue to make tweaks, but this is designed for highly commercial queries where the layout is able to provide more relevant results for people searching and better performance for advertisers.”
The right side of desktop searches will now be empty, except for the “Knowledge Panels”, which are Google’s own results for renowned people, places or things, and Product Listing Ads, which are commerce searches that trigger Google’s own comparative shopping service.
The removal of the right side ads do make mobile search and desktop results more similar, although Google normally shows two or three ads at the top of mobile search results.