Favicon in Desktop Search Results is Back to Testing – January 25, 2020
Just a week after Google announced that the mobile search results page design had been adapted to desktop search, it seems like the feedback is not too great.
The official SearchLiason tweet says that it has received feedback about the Favicon, which was a new addition to the search design in desktop, and wants to ensure that design stays genuinely modern.
Starting today, users may find search results with and without favicons as Google wants to experiment further before rolling out out the final design for the desktop SERP.
The statement also read that the new design was implemented after getting a positive reaction about the same when implemented on mobile devices. However, it seems that the feedback received after the implementation of the new design wasn’t positive.
The official twee read, “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….”
“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,” the tweet added.
Favicon Introduced in Desktop Search Results Design – 13 January, 2020
Google seems to have bigger plans for 2020 and to start with the the design of the Google search results for Desktop has been matched with that of the Mobile.
The search engine giant had redesigned the search engine results page for the mobile devices in May 2019. The same design has been popping up on the desktop for incognito search results and I had reported the same, predicting that the new Google Search UI will be rolled out to desktop results soon.
Now, with Google announcing that the newly redesigned version will also reflect on the Desktop search, my prediction on the same has been validated.
The new desktop search engine results page of Google will feature paid search with “Ad” label in black and favicons along with the URLs.
In the testing phase, Google tried to showcase the site name and the sub-folder instead of the URL string, but this feature is not part of the new rollout. This feature may be integrated later as the data can be retrieved easily from the breadcrumb.
How Prominent is the Google Ads after Redesign?
Google’s new search results UI has the ads showcased in a deep black icon. The same design was live on the mobile version of the SERP since May 2019 and has been adopted to desktop.
The new black Ad label is more intuitive than the green label that was before. Since all other results have a favicon, the Ad label doesn’t stand out and this can invite more Click Through Rate.
“When you search for a product or service and we have a useful ad to show, you’ll see a bold ad label at the top of the card alongside the web address so you can quickly identify where the information is coming from,” says Google announcement via the official website in May 2019.
Google Testing Redesigned Search Results Page (October 2019)
Now, it seems like Google is testing a new update for desktop search results that completely removes the URL from the SERPs. The latest update replaces the URL with the Favicon of websites along with the site name and the Breadcrumb details.
Google implemented a similar update to the mobile search results page a few months back, and it seems like the impact among users was mostly positive. However, the site name was not part of this update, as the mobile search results displayed the homepage URL instead.
Even though the update has not hit the global users, a Reddit forum is ripe with discussions about the new update. A Reddit user named LopsidedNinja1 posted a screenshot of what he believes could be a new SERP feature that Google might be under testing.
His Reddit post titled “Google is removing URLs entirely from the search results”, has already received 73 comments.
The user posted a screenshot of the Search Engine Results Page with the new feature enabled and asked:
“I’ve not seen this before, not sure what to think of it. I don’t suppose it changes much/anything on how we optimise sites. It might add a bit of confusion as to who’s the real site if you can get results like to show when you’re trying to rank for someone else’s brand name.”
Currently, the desktop search results are mostly plain with the Title appearing first, followed by the URL. The new update, if rolled out, will have the Favicon, Site name, and the Breadcrumb on top of the Title. This could be a hint that Google gives more importance to brands.
However, the discussion forum flooded with mixed reactions to the new feature, which is yet to be implemented. A Reddit user taylorkspencer says the new update may increase the attempts of phishing.
“In this era of search results that don’t even show the domain name, how’s Google going to keep phishing sites from using the names of the businesses they’re trying to impersonate? Worse get, might Google have to roll this back after discovering phishing sites were able to exploit this lack of domains in the search results to get people to divulge passwords, credit card numbers, and all other sorts of sensitive information?,” he wrote expressing concerns about how Google can thwart phishing attempts.
That said, others see this as a positive move towards better search results. A Reddit user jdooowke wrote:
“I don’t think this is going to change much in terms of SEO, it just removes one factor that separated good content from good ranking. This is going to normalize the perception of users between traditional tld’s and modern tld’s because they cant subconsciously decide whether or not to click on something based on the perceived trustworthiness of the URL.
I think that fundamentally, it is a good thing for new domains trying to get into a niche. This is going to devalue the perceived “vanity” of any particular URL, which is good in a climate where basically any URL is taken.
Right now, you can bully competitors by investing money in expensive URLs. That sucks (unless you have the resources). Just because you own lawnmower.com, you don’t automatically make better lawnmowers than shop.lawn-mower-systems.party. However, our brains tell us that you do, because you have a more prestigious URL. Which, if you think about it, is bullshit. All you really have is more resources.”
As this is not a confirmed Google Update, the search engine giant may be testing it on random search queries to collect the impact it has on the users. Since the new change seems to be giving users more reasons to click on search results, I don’t believe that it will impact the CTR negatively.
However, there are chances that people who identify their most trusted brands using the logo might skip the other results and choose their favorite brand instead. This might come as a boon for eCommerce giants such as Amazon and may prove a bane for small businesses as the CTR to these sites might go for a toss.