Google Redefines "Top Ads" in Search Results: What You Need to Know


If you're a regular Google Ads user, you might have noticed a recent change in how the platform defines "top ads." This change might seem subtle, but it has the potential to shake up the way advertisers approach bidding and optimization strategies. Let's break down what's changed and what it means for you.

The Old Definition vs. The New

  • Old Definition: Traditionally, "top ads" in Google Search results referred exclusively to the paid advertisements appearing above the organic listings.
  • New Definition: Google has updated the definition, stating that top ads can now appear either above or below organic results depending on the search query.


Imagine searching for "best running shoes." Previously, you would expect the top 3-4 results to always be ads. Now, depending on the nature of the search, you might see one or two organic results (like a review article or a store listing) followed by ads, then more organic results, and potentially more ads at the bottom.

Why the Change?

Google hasn't provided a definitive reason, but here are some likely factors:

  • Evolving Search Landscape: Google is constantly adding new features to search results, like knowledge panels, product carousels, and more. This change allows flexibility in how ads are integrated.
  • Increased Ad Inventory: This opens up more potential ad space, particularly for highly competitive keywords.
  • User Experience: Google likely wants to ensure the most relevant results, whether organic or paid, are presented in a way that best serves the user's query.

Implications for Advertisers

  • Metrics Matter: Metrics like "Top Impression Rate" (how often your ad shows at the top of the page) and "Absolute Top Impression Rate" (how often your ad is the very first result) will need careful interpretation since "top" is no longer so absolute.
  • Be Agile with Bidding: You may need to adjust bidding strategies as top-of-page placements become a little less predictable. Experimentation will be key.
  • Focus on Relevance: Ensure your ads are highly relevant to the search terms you're targeting. Quality ads have a better chance of securing favorable positions, regardless of above or below organic


This update underscores the dynamic nature of Google Ads. The best approach is to stay informed, closely monitor your key metrics, and be willing to adapt your strategies as needed. It's likely we'll continue to see evolution in how Google displays search ads.

Keywords to Consider

  • High-competition terms: Like "car insurance" or "web design services." These are most likely to see fluctuations in ad placement.
  • Informational Queries: Searches like "how to fix a leaky faucet" might now favor organic results at the very top, impacting ad positions.

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