Recently, Google rolled out a new mobile search design. The new design more visibly features the name of a website and includes a small favicon – both above the standard snippet’s title and description in the search results.
According to Google, “With this new design, a website’s branding can be front and center, helping you better understand where the information is coming from and what pages have what you’re looking for.” In addition to the design overhaul to Organic search, paid search ads also got a refresh. Instead of a green boxed Ad label to the left of the destination URL, there is now a black bolded “Ad” label where a site’s favicon would be in an Organic result.
At the end of the announcement on their blog, The Keyword, Google said this redesign would be rolling out over the course of a few days and coming to mobile first. So while, for now, this is an exclusive design to Mobile, the expectation is that this will be an overhaul to search on all platforms soon.
While these changes aren’t algorithmic, they still impact the way users engage with search results. So with the latest rollout, what can site owners and marketers expect?
One of the first actions to consider as a site owner is to set a custom favicon for your site, if one isn’t already in place, and follow Google’s guidelines for defining it in search for your results.
Take note that, according to their guidelines on favicon usage, Google will replace any images it deems inappropriate (they mention hate symbols and pornography as examples) with a default icon. In one instance, SEO Consultant, Bill Harzer changed his site’s favicon to the bolded black “Ad” text to mirror Google’s paid results – prompting this reply from Google’s Search Liaison, Danny Sullivan.
While we wouldn’t recommend making this type of adjustment, it did provide some entertaining conversation around the design change at the time it was done.
More Frustrations Surrounding Paid Search Ad Representation
With each new design change, frustrations surface that Google appears to be taking measures to “cloak” the identification of an ad in search. When Google replaced the yellow ad label in 2016, many thought the new green design too closely blended in with the URL of the same color to the right.
With this latest design, it could be perceived that the black “Ad” label is not very distinguishable and could be misinterpreted as being similar to a favicon for an Organic result. The fact that it is once again the same color as the URL (black) doesn’t help matters much either.
With that said, it’s far too early to say whether this new design will actually impact clicks to Organic search results and in what manner. Additionally, the desktop version has yet to be released, which could prompt a different behavior pattern altogether.
As is the case with any new release, design or algorithmic, we still recommend taking a closer look at your data to see how your content is performing organically leading up to and after this release. While we generally don’t recommend making knee-jerk decisions based on any one aspect of search or your SEO campaign, this could be a good time to revisit the basics and refresh title tags or meta descriptions for some of your content if their related pages are underperforming in search.