Google is doing a test right now which ups the number of ads on the search results page from 7 ads up to 8 ads, changing the bottom set of three ads to a set of four instead.
This is good news for advertisers who were concerned about the loss of the sidebar ad positions, when Google switched to the format that saw the sidebar ads removed and only seven ads available for advertisers in the search results (4 on top and 3 on bottom).
I began seeing this a week or so ago. But over the weekend, Google seems to be testing 4 ads on the bottom on a much larger scale, which could mean Google is planning to make this change permanent.
Here are some screenshots showing a variety of searches with 8 ads. As you can see in some of the screenshots, Google is showing 8 ads even when there are shopping ads on the page or a local knowledge panel. So it doesn’t seem that they are only showing the 8 ads when there aren’t other features such as PLAs or local knowledge panels on the same search results.
They are also testing it on local searches.
While advertisers would be pretty happy that it means there is room for one more ad position on the page, SEOs might not be so happy, especially those ranking in #9 or #10 who often get clicks from those looking for a last resort before moving on to the next page of results. With 4 ads, it is likely no organic results would be visible after 4 ads plus related searches are shown directly above the next page area.
Google testing 4 ads on the bottom isn’t brand new. Shortly after Google switched to 4 ads on the top of the search results, I spotted a test where Google was running 4 on top and 4 on the bottom, but there were only 7 unique ads on the page – the first ad position on both the top and the bottom set of ads were the same ad, meaning the advertiser who scored the top spot in the search results was getting double exposure in those results.
I have reached out to Google for information on whether they are switching to this format or if it is still just a test they are running.
A Google spokesperson confirmed that this is an experiment AdWords is running and that it will be over at the end of this week.
Since Google is confirming an end date, this sounds as though there are no plans to make it permanent, at least not immediately.
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