You Need to Know About Google’s New Layout

Did you notice that there was something missing the last time you ran a Google search from your desktop? Once upon a short time ago, there were ads above the fold (top of the page), below the fold (bottom of the page), AND in the gutter (along the right hand side of the page).

Today when you run a search, those interesting little side ads are gone.


Although Google has from time-to-time waded into the no-gutter ad waters, back in February it fully took the plunge and eliminated them entirely. Now when you run a search, instead of being served up to as many as 11 ads on a search engine results page (SERP), you’ll see a maximum of seven: four above the fold and three below the fold (bottom of the page).

If you understand the power of paid search, the thought of such a plummet in advertising real estate might make your heart palpitate. Before you call the medics though, here are a few things you should know about the new Google layout:

The details: Text ads will no longer appear in the gutter. Google will increase the number of ads allowed above organic listings from three to four. Three ads can also appear at the bottom of the SERPs. Product Listing Ads and Knowledge Panels may still appear on the right hand side for relevant queries.

Desktop Changes Only: Do most of your prospects conduct searches for your programs via their mobile devices? Then for the time being, your heart can beat calmly. There have been no changes made to the appearance of mobile search results. The Google gods have yet to make their plans for mobile ads known to us mere mortals.

Click-Through-Rates: Before you worry about plummeting click-through-rates, it’s important to note that gutter ads, when compared to top-of-the-page ads, often had results that were also in the gutter. Page-toppers receive much higher CTRs than ads served on the right hand side of the page.

On the other hand, there is less space available which means there will be more competition. You can view that reality in a panic mode or you can embrace the new filter. If you fully optimize, ensure bids are competitive, and monitor your school’s Adwords campaigns, then you can beat the competition.

Search Marketing Manager Wes Green acknowledges that there is likely to be an increase in overall Cost-per-Click. But he believes that schools with campaigns that are well-structured, run and monitored won’t see a fall off of results.

“We take a very hands-on approach to all the campaigns we run for our clients,” said Wes. “There is going to be an increase in average CPCs but that doesn’t mean we can’t stay ahead of it by running really effective campaigns that keep us among the top four positions on the SERP.  Keeping our average positions high will be the key to maintaining our current lead flow and potential enrollments. I look at it this way, Google is forcing us to shoot for a medal since there are no longer participation awards. It just means we are going to have to work harder!”

It’s time to get out of the Gutter! If you want to learn how to be a page-topper every time your future students search, ask us now.

~Linda Emma