Google changes definition of ‘top ads’

A Google spokesperson confirmed that the update was a 'definitional change' and would not affect performance metrics.

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Google updated its definition of top ads in its Help Center to better reflect how ads can appear in Google Search

A spokesperson told Search Engine Land that this just a “definitional change” and that it would not affect how performance metrics are calculated.

What are top ads? Top ads are ads that appear above the organic result, and also below organic results for certain queries. As explaiend by Google:

  • “When people search on Google, text ads can appear at different positions relative to organic search results. Top ads are adjacent to the top organic search results. Top ads are generally above the top organic results, although top ads may show below the top organic search results on certain queries. Placement of top ads is dynamic and may change based on the user’s search.”

Why now. Google changed its definition of top ads after testing ads between search results back in October. Patrick Stox, Ahrefs product advisor, technical SEO and brand ambassador, noticed sponsored posts were appearing where the third and fifth organic positions normally run and shared a screenshot on X:

google top ads

Why we care. This update could indicate that Google is progressing with its idea to insert ads between organic search results, as seen in trials last year. This change could potentially result in more clicks for advertisers in areas of Google Search that have traditionally been reserved for organic content.

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Deep dive. Read Google’s top ads guide for more information.

Opinions expressed in this article are those of the guest author and not necessarily Search Engine Land. Staff authors are listed here.

About the author

Nicola Agius
Nicola Agius was Paid Media Editor of Search Engine Land from 2023-2024. She covered paid media, retail media and more. Prior to this, she was SEO Director at Jungle Creations (2020-2023), overseeing the company's editorial strategy for multiple websites. She has over 15 years of experience in journalism and has previously worked at OK! Magazine (2010-2014), Mail Online (2014-2015), Mirror (2015-2017), Digital Spy (2017-2018) and The Sun (2018-2020). She also previously teamed up with SEO agency Blue Array to co-author Amazon bestselling book Mastering In-House SEO.

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