Google seems to have bigger plans for change when it comes to updating the search results page. This is evident with most of the recent announcements, such as the Reviews Rich Snippet update and the Key Moments in Videos, signaling an overhaul of the Search Results page.
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.