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The latest developments in the world of Google AdWords: we are witnessing organic search results receiving less and less space as ads take over the page.

Google are currently in the process of testing 4 text ads at the top of their search result pages. With the current layout of three ads, the majority of the first page of search results is already taken by adverts.

Google Tests 4 Adverts

On mobile devices, especially when using search terms for products, you already have to scroll quite far to get to the organic results currently without an increase in adverts.

For advertisers who want to appear on the first page of Google this is an extra opportunity to appear in the adverts right at the top of page one, but for those who rely on organic listings, this will further impact on their position.

Google have confirmed that this is just part of their experimentation with how they display their ads and that they’re currently testing a small number of search queries on desktops.

News In The World Of Google Adwords

Another area Google is changing with regards to ads in AdWords is through structured snippet extensions. Structured snippets first launched back in August but Google now allow you to have up to two lines of structured snippet text in AdWords text ads.

Google Structured Snippet

The snippets are designed to show additional information at the bottom of your adverts to give searchers a better sense of your website content before they click through.

“For example, if you’re a retailer, you might list your top clothing brands. If you’re a hotel, you might highlight popular amenities.” [Google blog post]

Here’s a list of available headers:

  • Amenities
  • Brands
  • Courses
  • Degree programs
  • Destinations
  • Featured hotels
  • Insurance coverage
  • Models
  • Neighbourhoods
  • Service catalogue
  • Shows
  • Styles
  • Types

These snippets increase the size of adverts which again pushes organic listings below the fold.

In November, Google launched a set of short term headers, specifically aimed at Black Friday and Cyber Monday promotions. Advertisers had to just enter one offer in the snippet, unlike most structured snipped, which require multiple values.

Google Black Friday Snippet

An example of these snippets are shown below

Black Friday:
Stores open from 5am
Black Friday: £100 off all LG TVs
Cyber Monday: Up to 75% off
Cyber Monday: Free shipping on all orders

As google pushes the prominence of paid Ads by adding more sitelinks, longer ads and increasing the number show at the top of the page, as well as including product listing ads and location ads into the mix, the available space for organic listings is dramatically reducing.

Similarly, if you sell Christmas trees and you rely on text ads from the keyword Christmas tree to bring in your sales, then you are likely to see a drop in sales. The reason behind that is that Google has removed all text ads on the first page, replacing them with organic listings, shopping ads, images, news stories and a list of Christmas songs.

Visual works.

Google Christmas Tree Layout

If however you search for Christmas trees (plural) a totally different result appears.

Google Christmas Trees

In this result you get local business results included in the mix but also the adverts down the right hand side.

These results however aren’t conclusive. You will often find that if you refresh the page the number of text ads that appear on the first page changes. It has also been suggested that if you search for a search term on a number of occasions but don’t click on an ad the number of ads shown each time decreases. Google no longer offers a set layout.

For example, if you scroll through the page numbers on the bottom page 2 may only show one ad, page 3 not show any ads at all and then page 4 can show 3 ads.

Why is Google doing this? As they make money from paid adverts and not organic search then why wouldn’t it encourage people to pay for their search result?

How long before every result is a paid result? I have no idea but I think it may be something that may be just around the corner.


If you are just relying on organic search results these latest developments by Google are making it more important to consider some form of paid advertising whether it be on Google or one of the social media websites.

Sian Morley

Author: Sian Morley

Sian is PPC Manager here at Midas Media. With 11+ Years’ in the digital world, Sian has a wealth of experience in Account Management, SEO and PPC. She also enjoys extreme ironing and wine.

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