4 Ads At Top And Local Search

There has been much written about Google now showing 4 ads at the top of search.  Mostly about its impact on bidding and ad costs.

Given that Google tests these things and likely has a good handle on the income implications, we can rest assured that they have not made any changes that would reduce their income. I can’t speak to whether this change will make it harder for small businesses to compete although that has been an on-going trend.

In all that has been written about the change I have yet to see notice of its non-ad impact on Local search. IE the amount that it further pushes local results down the page and below the fold.

Here are two screen shots of the same search done on my Mac 13″ display, which has an effective web resolution of 1280×800. The impact is present even when Google shows only 3 ads because the ads all now can have extensions with sitelinks, reviews etc which also take up more space.

Local Search with 3 ads BEFORE
Local Search with 4 ads AFTER
Local Search with 4 ads AFTER

The affect of this is particularly noticeable when Google includes product search to the right.

4 ads with Product search
4 ads with Product search

Here is a screen shot from my home computer with a 1440 x 900 pixel display and only 3 ads. Note that the 3 ads and the many Adword extensions push the pack out of sight even on a larger display:

Screen Shot 2016-03-01 at 10.19.05 PM


Please consider leaving a comment as your input will help me (& everyone else) better understand and learn about local.
4 Ads At Top And Local Search by

7 thoughts on “4 Ads At Top And Local Search”

  1. IMO it’s bad for Google, maybe not short term, however, it’s overall not best practice for UX. If you have a section on your website that 80% of users are looking for and you know this from heatmaps would you make the 80% do more work to find what they need?

    It’s an extra step for the user, which is more friction and makes Google a hypocrite, they want us to improve our website for users meanwhile they are doing the opposite and annoying searchers. It’s just a matter of time before there’s a better tool for search that doesn’t take over the entire page with sponsorships.

    1. @Donnie
      That’s a great point but I fear that Google gets that but that since they are at peak search their goal is to maximize income short haul to fund their various Alphabet projects for the future.

  2. I’ve been amazed at the times in conversations with “man on the street” types that don’t even realise the ads are ads. So yes, I agree, G won’t be hurting their ad revenue one bit with this change.

  3. What Margaret said – so many people tell me that they never click on the ads. And yet, so many people don’t even realise that they are ads!

  4. Mike: It would be compelling to see the view from mobiles. Just so you know our mobile click through rates are EXTREMELY HIGH. Its extraordinary.

    Donnie’s point above is more theory from a webmaster, but not the results experiences that we are seeing from users. We see ads being ever more visible and users clicking on them. In fact I’ve never heard a user/customer/lead EVER complain to us. They just click. They may know they are clicking on ads…or they may not. They have never articulated that to any of our smb’s. EVER. In over a decade.

    What do other smb’s experience????

    I agree with your response above, although who is to say its all going to Alphabet projects. Its also going to employees and its going to share holders.

    I’ll tell you one thing….its coming out of the pockets of advertisers…including our pockets.

  5. Yes it’s a theory, everything is theory, unless you have all of Google’s raw data available to you and you can somehow segregate all click-troughs into a logical report, even with all that data, it’s still not enough… did the user click and become a lead? What about the actual service the user was now provided vs. that organic link that made Google who they are.

    Organic links provided quality service and earned the right to be found. Do they deserve to lose business to someone who’s massive or has inherited a ton of money?

    The organic SERP’s should be based on quality and not on who’s got more money to spend on ads. Let’s say I have a hair salon that’s been doing very well in your local market and four franchises open up all around me… My hair salon used to rank nicely, but now I’m below the fold and I cannot compete with SuperCuts, they have very deep pockets and I’m just a mom and pop business that’s now SOL when it comet to Google traffic.

    The worst part of all this is Google’s users will probably end up at SuperCuts and Dave I think you know as well as I do that you’re better off getting a hair cut from Donald Drumpf’s barber or someone who’s seeing impaired over SuperCuts.

    Google just paved way to earn more money, which is understandable, however, there are better ways to do this without hurting the mamas and papas, and without giving the bigger cheaper brands that business, they already have plenty.

  6. Donnie: I didn’t mean to sound or write so attacking. Overall I don’t see the public (users) complaining about the intrusion of ads. Its been occurring for years. The public buys into it. They really haven’t raised a peep. I’ve walked friends through visiting search terms and clicking on results. Some of those friends had no idea what were ads and what weren’t. ie…they NEVER KNEW. I don’t see the user universe complaining. At all.

    I take back one of my statements above: With regard to one of our smb’s, which has fielded well over 60,000 leads in the last decade or so…I did hear one lead say something about the fact that we show high because of ads. 1 out of 60,000 leads. I don’t speak to them all. Lets extrapolate. Maybe 5 had negative reactions. Out of over 60,000.

    I don’t see the public reacting negatively. I also don’t see widespread criticism. Not out of the seo commentary world. Lots of the SEO world happily accepts it. They manage and discuss Adwords campaigns. Its part of their bread and butter.

    We have some smb’s with excellent serps. Really high rankings. Are our high rankings because we are BETTER??? or are they because we work harder on serps than the competition????

    Well…I know we are better…and so do a lot of others….but we worked on our serps. If a totally crappy competitor worked as hard on their serps they’d be ranked higher also regardless of how crappy they are.

    Of note for some of our smb’s we’ve had very strong serps and we’ve run adwords. Over time the ads are getting clicked on at higher rates.

    The ads show more vividly, the serps don’t. You note it, Mike showed it above. The public has not raised an outcry.

    Frankly the situation is far “WORSE” in mobile. Ads dominate. Maps and organics fall beneath the visible screen. Off of mobile our click through rates on ads have soared. Our clicks on organics have fallen. Google is taking more of our money.

    Our customers and our leads haven’t raised a peep. The smb’s pay..and ultimately the consumers will pay…but nobody is raising a voice that is being responded to. (and I’m a well known whiner about this stuff in the world of local SEO (right, Mike, et al.?????)

    So I apologize to you if you felt slammed by my comments. No offense meant. I don’t see enough complaints to make a difference. Google will keep increasing ad visibility.

    Maybe at some point…….but I don’t see it in the near future.


    A well known whiner!!!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Comments links could be nofollow free.