Male hand digital plastique card computer e-commerceWhen Google announced they were removing the right menu bar of paid ads, it raised a few eyebrows amongst marketers. The official reason was so the search engine could add an extra paid ad at the top of the screen.

Given most clickthroughs come from the first three paid ads above the fold, there is justification for the change. But removing the entire right-side menu means fewer paid ads appear on page one of Google.

There is clearly more to this story.

Removing the clutter of paid ads from the right-hand side of search results does create a better-user experience. The results page is now much cleaner and less busy to look at – especially on mobile handsets.

But by removing the number of Adwords from the first page of Google means there is less primary ad space for businesses paying for a PPC campaign to occupy.

Could reduced visibility have a negative impact on PPC campaigns or Google’s ad revenue?

It is unlikely the search engine giant is likely to allow either of those scenarios to happen. That can only mean the Big G has a contingency plan.

How will Paid Ads impact searches?

Research shows that the top three paid ads above the fold receive the most clicks – 41.4%. Google has now added a fourth paid ad box to fill this space which typically takes all the space above the fold.

It will be interesting to see how results pan out in the coming months, but there is a real threat that pushing organic results down the page will result in less traffic for websites that have worked hard to rank highly for competitive keywords.

Whatever the reason for Google’s decision to push organic ads off-screen, there is a concern throughout the industry that organic results are being challenged to compete with paid ads.

Furthermore, this idea goes against Google’s determination to enforce companies to publish high-quality content.

Companies can rank well for AdWords and dominate space they have paid for, but may not be producing better content than a company that has worked tirelessly and earned the right to rank on page one.

So will Google compromise quality content for paid ads? Does the search engine giant really care about delivering the best results to end users or are they only interested in fleecing online businesses to pay for advertising space?

It will be interesting to see how this story develops. Will Google add any more paid ads above the fold and is the company on a mission to make AdWords dominate the first page?

What are your thoughts?