The Google search engine results page (SERP) has changed.
As of today (14th January 2020), Google has rolled out a new look Google Search Results Page (SERP) for desktop users. It would also seem that the preview snippet contains a few more words than before.
The changes might only be subtle, but important for brand awareness and good excuse to have to review your overall SEO. All these small changes add up…
Update 27 January
Since I posted this article a few days ago, there has been a lot of chatter (mostly negative) about the latest changes. The biggest issue for a lot of people is that the new “ad” icon next to sponsored ads is so similar to the favicons of the organic results that it’s misleading.
There were a fair few complaints when Google altered the look on the mobile view last year, but this time they’ve come in from all quarters, not just the search community.
As a result, Google seems to be listening. It tweeted the other day that it will be experimenting with the design over the coming weeks. Today I tested a couple of simple searches, and the results (both as a user logged into Google and Incognito) are showing paid results with the same, new “Ad” icon but all organic results with no favicon at all.
I’m sure there will be others that are seeing different results, but I performed the same search via various VPNs, and the results were the same.
See the screenshot below which is from a search guaranteed to have paid results (“wordpress themes”). It shows the paid ads with the bold “Ad” icon, but the organic results below no longer have their favicon on show.
The thing that has been most widely reported about these changes today is the new, bold “Ad” symbol next to paid results.
Companies who advertise on Google have always had a small Ad icon next to their result, but the icon is now bolder, more prominent and supposedly easy to spot. I say supposedly because there are reports suggesting that it looks more like organic results.
For me, the most significant change is the new favicon that shows next to the search result. This is your website favicon. See the screenshot below to see the differences from a search of the same term — one taken this morning and one this afternoon.
Website URLs are shown next to the site icon and both placed above the page description.
As of writing, it seems there are no longer any supplementary links under the search result. For example, there are no further details or “must include” links.
It appears that more space has been allowed for the description of a page, too (the meta description). Google altered the amount of space last year for a short period but soon changed it back. I’m also not sure if Google is pulling the description from the HTML meta description. It looks like Google might be pulling relevant text from the web page itself, rather than the HTML description metadata.
Google has been testing this on mobile views for a year or so. When I first heard about these pending changes yesterday, I was under the impression that further changes would be rolled out to mobile devices too, but I don’t see anything different.
I’ll update this post as soon as I find out more in the coming days and weeks.