Google Sponsored Ads Get Closer to Organic Results in SERPs

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Have you noticed anything new with the way Google is displaying its paid search ads on its SERPs lately? According to the Periscopix blog, Google may be testing a new layout of its SERPs with the paid search which is used to be located at the far right end of the SERPs now closer to the organic search results. The new SERP layout appeared while James Carswell was using Firefox 3 as he later found out that it is not showing in IE8. I checked it out using Firefox and Safari with both of the browser windows maximized and noticed that indeed the paid search results are closer now to the organic search results. If you have been using Bing lately, this new Google SERP layout is similar with Bing’s SERPs.

Here’s a screenshot of the old Google SERP as captured by James:


While this is a screenshot of the Google SERP in both Safari and Firefox:



If indeed Google is rolling out this new SERPs layout, they might raising some issues here specifically in misleading users that the links on the right are actually not sponsored links and are part of the organic search results aside from the probability of users accidentally clicking them.

Arnold Zafra
Arnold Zafra writes daily on the announcements by Google,, Yahoo & MSN along with how these announcements effect web publishers. He is currently building... Read Full Bio
Arnold Zafra
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  • Ed

    Misleading users? – As if users care if those results are paid or not?
    A good percentage of users aren’t even aware the links on the right are paid results.

    Google makes more money, advertisers get a higher CTR and better quality score and more traffic.

    Win – Win

    • Hazar

      Exactly right! A good strategy from Google.

  • Alan Bleiweiss

    Wow – yes – I saw this today myself. I have a 1440 wide monitor and now it looks ridiculously crowded, with too much white space, compared to the previous layout.

    I don’t know if it’s misleading or not, but I definitely think it is not a positive change from a usability perspective, but that it is, in fact, a pure financial move.

  • Bobby Kircher

    I can see what Google wants more emphasis on the side links, but the top three or two sponsored links get less space too (even if you have to click on the link in order to visit the site).

    • H Mapara

      Query: How can we place Sponsored Ad on Left-Top area, just above the generic search results?

      • Che

        The left top and the right hand column are all the same thing… top left are positions 1-3 and the right is 4,5,6 etc…

        getting your ad in the top left however will require a higher cost per click or ‘bid’ amount…

        A good qulaity score is the next part of the equation to help you appear in this section…

        good luck !

  • Bennie Stark

    This is a good thinking. Users doesn’t really care if the reuslts are paid or not. As what Ed says, some users are not even aware that those are paid reuslts.

    Google is making good money from this and advertisers also benefits from this, both parties are being benefited.

  • Pandiyarajan

    This is good move while midst of Microsoft and Bing deal. Already some statistics comes out that Bing increase the market share. So Good move.

  • Tinus

    Seen here as well:

  • jaluzi perde

    perde: Thank you for sharing. This article helped me a lot

  • Bartjan

    I noticed this aswell this week, since I use 1920×1200 (widescreen) you notice it quite easy.
    I just thought it was probably an FF addon which wasn’t working as it should.

  • Barry Welford

    Perhaps it’s not surprising that we need to scrutinize Google’s every move to see how it is favoring ad content on the screen. This not only brings the right column ads more ‘in your face’ but also narrows the main left column, thus pushing organic results lower and giving more vertical space to the sponsored results in that column.

    This has nothing to do with user experience, although as others have noted, most users won’t think about this. It has everything to do with advertising display. Oh well!

  • Gilly

    those ads look like shit to me

  • Randy Pickard

    It certainly would not surprise me if Google is attempting to increase the click-thru rate for ads on the right hand side of the SERP’s. More ad clicks results in greater revenue.

    An eye tracking study we conducted at User Centic indicated that Bing’s three column format resulted in sponsored links on the right attracted more attention on Bing (~42% of participants per search) than they did on Google (~25% of participants per search). If Google moves the sponsored ads closer to the organic results, an increase in clicks seems to be a likely result. As a side note, we had at least 68 views of the eye tracking study article from visitors originating in Mountain View, CA using the domain shortly after it was published on our website. The User Centric study can be viewed at

  • Che

    C’mon guys, Google is not a charity !

    PPC is how they make their money and a tiny tweak to maybe increase the number of clicks they get which eran them revenue is simply good business !

    If they get a user revolt they will fold to pressure but as long as they keep doing things that are genrally useful no one will mind to much . . .

  • sean vernall

    I wonder if this is Google’s attempt at a gradual move towards a three column format. Notice how the PPC links take up half of the sponsored link area width. If Google were attempting to fool users into clicking on PPC links then a better tactic would be to make them look more like the organic links – namely spreading them across the available area.

    I would say keep watching the white space on competitive terms, I bet it wont be long before we start seeing PPC links appearing there. This is certainly something I would do to increase revenue in a world where resolution dimensions are getting larger.

  • Voodish

    Definitely, with more and more people using larger resolutions, the sidebar sponsored links were getting further and further away from the organic Links; I bet this slight change, will bring in a massive amount more revenue for Big G.

  • Gordon Choi

    I have noticed this change browsing from within China as well.