Google announce changes to mobile search design

In case you missed their announcement this week, Google has made some changes to the way that their search results pages are designed.

You might have actually seen this design recently, as it’s something that the search giant has been testing on certain users. The design itself is slightly slicker and cleaner than the one that we’ve been used to for many years.

In Google’s words, one of the main points behind this design is allowing branding for a site to be “front and center”. Essentially what they mean by this is that the site URL appears at the top of each search listing, with the favicon set just to the left of it. The title tag for the page is then set underneath this, with the meta description below that.

Upon first glance, it might seem that this change isn’t too drastic, but there are easy to miss details about this change that could have a wider impact on search than we might have first thought.

Blurring the lines between organic and paid search

Firstly, this design starts to blur the line between organic and paid search results. Previously, ads were fairly easy to spot – a green ‘Ad’ icon was placed next to each paid search listing. However, this change has minimised the extent to which ads now stand out in search listings, effectively blurring the lines between paid and organic search even further.

It’s too early to tell how this will affect click through rates for organic and paid search, but we’re predicting that this will cause a shift as users struggle to differentiate between the two.

Basically, if you hadn’t been considering a combined search strategy before then it’s time to start. It’s not good enough for organic and paid search to be treated in silos anymore – they should be treated as one channel now more than ever. We’ve been focusing on that already for our clients, and we can comfortably say that it has created efficiencies and maximised results. If you want to find out more about that then you can find some examples amongst our case studies.

Favicons – now a necessity?

A favicon is essentially an icon that you can set to be associated with your website. Previously, favicons have always been viewed as a ‘nice to have’ for a website. After all, they don’t tend to show up too often to users.The only times you’ll really see it displayed are in the address bar of a browser, or next to a bookmark for a site. Typically it’ll be your brand logo (or a condensed version of it).

Whilst a lot of sites already use a favicon, there are still many that don’t. It looks like those who don’t are going to suffer as part of this update to search. Favicons will now be displayed next to search results, so they’ll have an impact on the overall aesthetic of search listings. Failing to display one in search could make a site less attractive in search result pages, which could have an overall impact on organic search.

The wrap up

The new design for Google’s search results might look minimal at a glance – but it throws up some extra points that, as marketers, we must address if we’re going to succeed in growing our search presence. You still have time to address those points as the design is still in the early stages of roll-out, but we’d advise acting quickly.

Make sure your business is ready for this change by:

  • Addressing your combined search strategy
  • Ensuring that you have a functioning favicon present on your site

We’re able to help with both of the above, so if you’d like some assistance then get in touch.

Written by Alex Wright

SEO Manager