Google's recently announced new redesign of desktop search results would have made ads pretty much look exactly like search results. Google is now backtracking, listening to the criticism, and trying a different visual approach.
Our experimenting will begin today. Over the coming weeks, while we test, some might not see favicons while some might see them in different placements as we look to bring a modern look to desktop….
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) January 24, 2020
"Last week we updated the look of Search on desktop to mirror what's been on mobile for months. We've heard your feedback about the update. We always want to make Search better, so we're going to experiment with new placements for favicons," wrote Danny Sullivan, Google's search liaison, in a statement posted to Twitter.
"Our experimenting will begin today. Over the coming weeks, while we test, some might not see favicons while some might see them in different placements as we look to bring a modern look to desktop."
Writes Nick Statt at The Verge:
Google made one of the biggest changes to how it displays search results in the company's history earlier this month, with the changes taking effect over the course of the last week. It involved a visual overhaul that makes it more difficult to differentiate between advertising and organic search results with the removal of color overlays and the introduction of small branded iconography, known on the web as favicons, next to non-ad results.
The company's stated intention was to align desktop search results with the way they're presented on mobile, but it became clear this also had the effect of making it harder to distinguish between paid results and non-paid ones. The only difference between an ad and an organic result in the new design is the small lettering or icon next to a link, meaning ads and organic results now look more similar than ever before. And critics have been noticing.
Now, Google says it's going to experiment with both the existence of favicons next to search results and their placement on the web version of its search engine. The experiments will take place "over the coming weeks."
And, The Verge updates us: As of shortly after 2PM ET on Friday, Google has already started experimenting with favicon removal.
On Friday, Google also released a more formal statement about why the earlier design change was proposed in the first place, and committed to "iterate on the design over time":
From the Google statement:
We're dedicated to improving the desktop experience for Search, and as part of our efforts around this we rolled out a new design last week, mirroring the design that we've had for many months on mobile. The design has been well received by users on mobile screens, as it helps people more quickly see where information is coming from and they can see a prominent bolded ad label at the top. Web publishers have also told us they like having their brand iconography on the search results page. While early tests for desktop were positive, we are always incorporating feedback from our users. We are experimenting with a change to the current desktop favicons, and will continue to iterate on the design over time.
What has happened to @Google? This was not the Google I knew. This is preposterous from a customer/user perspective. Imagine my grandma searching on Google – she will never know what that "Ad" moniker stands for. Stupid! Stupid! Stupid! https://t.co/uMvgj1Ampk
— Raj Sarkar (@rajsarkar) January 23, 2020
Has anyone else found Google search less and less useful for quick research? I end up scrolling past the top "results" automatically now because they're all ads. Filtering ads from actual results is becoming a ridiculous chore.https://t.co/huokxrrFRE
— Gerry Conway (@gerryconway) January 23, 2020
a single image that explains why I think this change would be good pic.twitter.com/zmTUeDEHMx
— Sean Hollister (@StarFire2258) January 24, 2020
Here's our full statement on why we're going to experiment further. Our early tests of the design for desktop were positive. But we appreciate the feedback, the trust people place in Google, and we're dedicating to improving the experience. pic.twitter.com/gy9PwcLqHj
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) January 24, 2020
Does anyone have any good reasons to use favicons?
The world was meant to be using "voice search" this year but yet we've gone back to using 8-bit pixelated images ?♂️ https://t.co/4F90d0X6cJ
— Carl Hendy (@carlhendy) January 24, 2020
Why is it still ok to do it on mobile? Because mobile is where the majority of the ad dollars are? https://t.co/ATJTrfKvJH
— modest proposal (@modestproposal1) January 24, 2020
NEW: Google tells us it's rolling back its new search redesign. Legislators and users alike are already scrutinizing the company's redesign for blurring the lines between paid and organic content that shows up in search results. https://t.co/NOF5rTsieq
— Jennifer Elias (@jenn_elias) January 24, 2020
Good. Google needs to abide by the standards it sets for its third party adsense partners, this confusion of ads and content was not true to that. I spent a LOT of time having this conversation with them some year back as a top tier adsense partner! https://t.co/mkAxbFDI8e
— Paul O'Brien (@PaulOBrien) January 24, 2020
Before the featured snippet change, and before the core update we had changes with favicons now displaying in desktop search.
And now Google is making further changes to favicons. It's unclear what though.
Confused yet? https://t.co/BR9pcOfim1
— Marie Haynes (@Marie_Haynes) January 24, 2020
Google "said when a user clicks on a Google Search Ad, the company wants it to be because the ad looked relevant and useful, not because it was confusing."
Oh ok. Cool. https://t.co/7UmictS2Ov
— Kerry Flynn ? (@kerrymflynn) January 24, 2020