Google’s New SERP Ad Layout: Tips to Improving Your SEO Strategy

The changes in Google’s SERP (Search Engine Results Page) ad layout have resulted in the ‘survival of the fittest’ show with an immense increase in competition. But what happens to the Organic Search Result? Read through this in-depth discussion to find out!


The removal of the right rail ads on Google was seen coming. According to a study last year, people had changed their ad scanning pattern from an ‘F’ to a vertical glance, rendering the right side ads useless. Previously, people scanned the results for 14-15 seconds, but now for merely 8-9 seconds. This reduction in the search span has led to these changes in the SERP ad layout.


Google Murders Right Rail Ads via

As blatant from the changes made by Google, this is a result of the findings of the aforementioned study. Resultantly, the right side ads have been bid farewell. Google’s inclination towards the mobile-first search engine is evident too, as right rail ads were not visible in phone searches.

Validating the tensions of the SEOs, this ad layout will affect marketing though there will be no significant change to the organic searches and their results. The extra ads will be shown only if ‘high commercial queries’ are made. There are also some keywords such as PLA that have no ads when searched.

With that being said, this layout change is a relief to the organic searchers who had to scroll through several ads before finding content relevant to their usage. Although this change is a wave of fresh air for plenty, it has made survival all the tougher for others! But, brace yourself, as we will help you come up with a substantial SEO strategy to overcome this competition, and be successful!

What are the changes in the New SERP ad layout?

Before we begin pondering upon the strategies you need to adopt to rank better on the SERP, you should know about the type of changes that have taken place.

1. The switch to the 3 business pack. Previously, businesses were advertised in packs of 3,5, and 7. This meant that there was more room for companies to be portrayed on the first results’ page. However, the 3 pack has made it more competitive to make it to the first page!


The 3 Pack change! via

2. No phone numbers and business addresses. Sadly or not, phone numbers and business addresses have also been removed from the search results. All the ad shows is the street where the business is situated in, reflecting the need for you to provide contact details through other sources.

3. No ‘Google My Business’ links. Remember advertising your business through flyout promos and cards? Well, that is not going to happen now onwards as Google has removed all flyout cards and ‘Google My Business’ links. When the consumers click on a link, they are lead to an arena where businesses are trying to battle each other for victory.



A list of competitors on the left, with an old card version and a search map via

What to do?

Researching the Right Keyword

Although the importance of the right keyword has always existed, it has increased tremendously due to the changes in the SERP ad layout. The room for few ads has increased competition, making strategic keyword research more important than ever before!

If you are struggling with which sort of keyword to choose, try typing it on the Google search bar to see what kind of results show up. This will give you an idea of what you’re up against! You are recommended to give priority to the keywords which result in fewer ads and higher organic results. In this manner, you’ll be able to find your business some space on the front page. (Although opting for keywords with few ad results is not a very fine approach to marketing, it should at least keep you going for the time being)

Test your target keywords on Google to see if organic search results are moved lower on the page to adjust your ad; if not, it is time to modify your strategy.

Don’t forget to note the other types of organic results, such as images, videos, and snippets, targeted by the SERP layout. Here are a few examples of searching for the keyword ‘muffler’.



● Local

Due to the greater number of ads on top, even the 3 pack is pushed down, shifting the organic

results even lower on the page!

google7google7This is very significant to developing the perfect SEO strategy for Bricks and Mortar businesses.

If the local SEO matters to you, try making it to the local 3 pack businesses!

It is also recommended that you become a part of the authoritative directories and review sites if they are near the organic search results. If you’re unable to compete in the ranking, at least be a part of a site that can, because something is better than nothing.


● Improvising Content

This changed SERP ad layout might as well be a blessing in disguise! Maybe this is your time to ponder upon your content weaknesses and overcome them. Despite the fact that every query varies from the other, there are still these long-tail keywords sitting on top of the ad-free result pages. The product related or E-commerce keywords have SEO friendly SERP layouts. Try finding your place in these long-tail searches to avoid competition from organic results and other ads.

Use the short-tail keywords to learn about other opportunities. For instance, if your blog or ad is defeated by a video, try making a video related to your content, post in on Youtube and link it to your blog. In this manner, you will be able to outstand with your content! Similarly, if somebody is looking for wedding rings, you might want to have a short-tail keyword to make sure your ad pops up for a wide number of searches.

Here is a detailed pros and cons list of short-tail keywords vs. long-tail keywords.

The concerns for the changes in the Google SERP layouts have led to many accusing Google of greed. But the truth is, changes are a part of life. And if you can’t handle merely SERP layout changes, maybe it’s time you rethought what you want to achieve in life. Because this is How The World Works!


Written by Jenny Corteza


Henrik Sandberg

I am the founder of SeoCustomer and I love everything about SEO, SEM, Social Media Traffic and Link Building. Join our email club here at SeoCustomer and get blog updates and access to whitepapers about SEO.

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