Depending on whether you are ranking organically or purchasing Google AdWords, you wither love or hate the new test Google is running with 4 AdWords ads being displayed at the top of the search results. And it seems that the test might be a long term one.
For those who haven’t spotted the 4 AdWords ad test in the wild, here is what it looks like:
In all cases we have seen, if 4 AdWords ads appear at the top above the regular search results, there are never any AdWords ads displayed in the right sidebar, only shopping ads or organic knowledge panels.
Dr. Pete Meyers from Mozcast reports that for the keywords they track, Google is still displaying 4 AdWords ads at the top – above the organic results – about 1% of the time.
Google's 4-ads-on-top test seems to be holding steady around 1%. This is going to be a long-term test, and may not materialize.
— Dr. Pete Meyers (@dr_pete) December 14, 2015
This test definitely brings it in line with one of Google’s regular tests, which are often shown for 1% of all searches, either within a specific country or worldwide. And based on reports, this continues to be a worldwide test.
This also changes things up quite a bit for advertisers who are looking for the top AdWords position. Suddenly there are 4 spots up for grabs at the top, instead of the usual maximum of 3s, but since it is only a 1% test, it can be a bit harder to optimize, especially if you are challenging for that 4th spot. But it also means if you aren’t in that top 4, you have no shot at being displayed near the top of the search results, since those sidebar ads are no longer available with this 1% test.
Google confirmed the test to us earlier this month, stating they were testing it for some desktop queries, although some people have also reported seeing it on mobile as well.
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On mobile, user is already seeing ads results. Does that mean to degrade organic results? Marketers are thinking to shift marketing budget from organic to ads….
bad news for SEO
Chip Jones says
Interesting, I would think that Google needs to be careful with this, in regard to their desire of provide quality search content. Especially when it comes to today’s decreasing screen sizes.
Even on a 1920 x 1080 screen, 4 paid ads only provides enough space for about one organic listing above the fold. This might not be important if someone is looking for “shoes online”, but if someone was searching for other types of shoe information, it could result in a negative user experience.