Google’s Shelf Space


Earlier this year Google made a massive change to the results it displays for any given keyword search term. During the month of February, Google changed the top three AdWords (Pay-Per-Click ads) listing to have space for four ads. To the average person, this may not seem like that big of a deal since Google only increased the ad space by one listing however, this affects the entire real estate of the front page of Google. To date, this has been one of biggest game changes to happen to the front page of Google in recent years and it has greatly affected the conversion of both pay per click and SEO.


To understand why this has such a large impact on conversions we need to look at the front page of Google as shelf space in a grocery store. Think of the top four ads as the primary sight level. This is where a grocer would strategically position the items they want to move off the shelf. These items may not have the highest profit ratio per item but they will yield the highest overall profit due to the volume that these items move off the shelf.

So look at what I said there. The sight line is where a grocer would position his items to have the most exposure.


When a grocer agrees to change the way products are organized it is called a reset. You may have encountered this happening in your local grocery store or pharmacy. A reset is very important to all the products on the shelves because they are fighting for shelf space or positioning. The shelf positioning of the products can have a drastic impact on how well they move off the shelf or sell.


When Google went from three to four AdWords listings it gave more shelf space to the ads, but it also did something else… it pushed the organic listings down the page. Now visitors to the front page of Google have to scroll almost halfway down the page to see the first listing of the organic search results.

On top of this change, Google removed the ads listed on the right-hand side of the main listings. This caused advertisers to move from having the option of advertising on the top three ad listings on the top of the page AND approximately ten listings on the right side of the page to ONLY four listings on the top of the page.


At Timmermann Group we manage Google Ads campaigns for our clients that have a budget ranging from $1,000 a month to over $50,000 a month. At the same time, we have many organic SEO clients who rank on the front page of Google organically. As soon as this change occurred, there was a drastic shift in the conversions of our pay per click and SEO simply because the “shelf positioning of the products” changed. The good news is this change can benefit you if you have the team to make the necessary adjustments to your AdWords campaign. The bad news is this can cost your company massive amounts in sales by missing conversions.

Experimenting with your Google Ads campaign can cost you thousands of dollars in wasted ad spend if you do not know what you are doing. Contact us today to talk about having your Google Ads campaign professionally managed by one of our Google certified experts.