In a significant shift, Google has started blending Google Ads with organic search results.

Queue the alarm bells.

How did this all start? Back in June of 2023, Google started initial testing for a very small pool of mobile users before rolling it out to both mobile and desktop users in October. The official announcement from the Google Ad's liaison didn't come until March of this year, when a definition for "top ads" was added to the Google Ads Glossary.

This change blurs the lines between paid and organic content, and the internet has not been quiet about it—marketers, SEO experts, UX/UI pros and users alike have been debating the pros and cons. Seamlessly integrating ads into organic listings has an enormous impact on user behavior and the digital advertising landscape.

This strategic decision by Google has far-reaching implications for businesses relying on organic traffic and those investing in paid advertising. As the distinction between paid and organic results becomes less clear, businesses need to adapt their digital marketing strategies to navigate this evolving terrain effectively (hint: it may be time to look into your local SEO strategy).

Ad Placement Types

Google's new ad placements have two contexts within the organic search results—they are either mixed with organic results, or in larger blocks directly after featured snippets.

Mixed with Organic Results

In this scenario, ads are interspersed within the top organic search results. Typically, users will encounter one or two ads with a maximum of four appearing consecutively. This integration makes it challenging for users to distinguish between paid and organic content at first glance, potentially increasing ad clicks.

Imagine searching for "top tech marketing tips" and finding a mix of ads and organic results within the top ten listings. Users might see two ads sandwiched between the second and third organic results, making the ad content seem like a natural part of the search experience.


Mixed with Results Ad Example

Directly Below Featured Snippets

Another common placement is directly below featured snippets, where a full set of four ads is displayed. Featured snippets are designed to provide quick, concise answers to user queries, and placing ads directly below them can capture the attention of users seeking more detailed information.

A search for "best SaaS companies" might show a featured snippet of a top 10 list from Forbes, immediately followed by four related ads for relevant companies. This strategic positioning can drive higher engagement with the ads due to the immediate relevance to the user's query.


Featured Snippet Ad Example


So…Why is Google Doing This?

Google's intentions often come under scrutiny when large algorithmic and product changes occur. It's inevitable. We can speculate all day about one true reason, but the reality is that it is likely multifaceted.

One clear intention is to encourage more ad clicks by making ads appear as natural extensions of organic content. By blending ads seamlessly with organic listings, users may become desensitized to the traditionally distinct separation between paid and organic results, leading to higher click-through rates for advertisers.

Additionally, placing ads below featured snippets could be seen as a way to enhance user experience. Users often trust featured snippets for quick answers, and positioning relevant ads directly below these snippets can provide additional resources without detracting from the primary content.

This raises a bit of a dilemma about the transparency of online advertising and the impact it has on user experience. From an SEO perspective, the increased presence of ads within organic results could potentially reduce the visibility and click-through rates of organic listings. On the user experience front, while some may find the integration seamless, others might perceive it as cluttered or misleading.

What This Means for Marketers

The integration of ads within organic search results presents both opportunities and challenges for tech marketers—paying close attention to the continued changes Google is making can make all the difference for your SEO and ads strategy.

Increased Competition for Visibility

One of the most immediate impacts is the heightened competition for visibility. With ads now appearing seamlessly within organic results, marketers need to work harder to ensure their content stands out. This means that high-quality SEO practices are more important than ever. Marketers must focus on creating content that not only ranks well organically but also competes with paid ads in terms of relevance and engagement.

Higher Costs and Budget Adjustments

As ads are more prominently featured, the competition for ad placements may increase, potentially driving up the cost-per-click (CPC). Marketers will need to adjust their advertising budgets to accommodate these changes, ensuring they can maintain visibility without overspending. This could involve reallocating funds from other marketing channels or increasing overall ad spend to stay competitive.

Enhanced Targeting and Relevance

The blending of ads with organic results underscores the importance of precise targeting and relevance. Marketers will need to leverage advanced targeting options to ensure their ads appear to the most relevant audiences.

With all the changes to cookies, this can complicate things a bit. Make sure you are collecting demographic data, behavioral insights and using advanced keyword strategies across other marketing mediums to help you create ads that are highly relevant to the user's search intent.

Impact on Click-Through Rates (CTR)

The mixing of ads with organic results could impact click-through rates (CTR) in both positive and negative ways. On the one hand, ads may receive more clicks due to their prominent placement within organic listings. On the other hand, organic results might experience a drop in CTR as they compete with visually similar ad content. Marketers will need to closely monitor these metrics and adjust their strategies accordingly to optimize performance.

Psst…if you want some ideas for landing pages in particular, check out our report: Landing Page Best Practices for B2B SaaS + Tech Companies.

Landing Page Best Practices for B2B SaaS and Tech Companies

Adaptation of SEO Strategies

SEO strategies will need to adapt to the new landscape. This includes optimizing for featured snippets, as ads are commonly placed below these prime positions. Marketers should aim to secure featured snippets for their content, which not only drives organic traffic but also places their ads in a favorable position just below these high-visibility elements.

The dynamic nature of Google's ad integration means that marketers must engage in continuous monitoring and adaptation. Staying updated with Google's changes and understanding their implications will be critical. Marketers should regularly analyze performance data, test different ad formats and placements and refine their strategies to align with the evolving search environment.

How to "Get" a Featured Snippet

We can't promise this will secure your spot in Google's search results, but these strategies will help:

  1. Understand user intent: identify common queries using tools like Google Search Console and analyze existing snippets to understand preferred content types.
  2. Optimize content structure: use headers, subheads, lists and tables to organize content with clear, concise answers of around 40-60 words.
  3. Answer multiple related questions: create comprehensive content that addresses several related questions to increase the likelihood of being featured.
  4. Enhance overall SEO: ensure your site is mobile-friendly, improve page speed and build a strong backlink profile to boost your site's authority.
  5. Leverage schema markup: implement structured data to help Google understand your content better, increasing the chances of being featured.

Importance of User Experience

User experience remains a key consideration. Marketers should ensure that their ads enhance rather than detract from the user's journey. This involves creating ads that are not only relevant but also provide genuine value. By focusing on user-centric ad content, marketers can build trust and foster long-term engagement with their audience.


The integration of ads within organic search results represents a significant evolution in Google's approach to monetizing search traffic. While this change can offer advertisers increased visibility and potentially higher click-through rates, it also poses challenges for those relying on organic search traffic.

For SEO professionals and businesses, monitoring these changes and adapting strategies accordingly will be crucial. It's essential to stay informed about how these blended ad placements are affecting overall search performance and user behavior.

Furthermore, Google's recent reversion to using the "ad" labeling on mobile devices suggests that they are still in the process of fine-tuning this approach. This indicates an ongoing period of testing and adaptation, so the experience may continue to evolve.

If you're feeling a little lost and worried about responding quickly to SEO and Google Ads changes, we can help. Reach out to us today to stay agile in your SEO journey.