It’s no surprise that Google is testing the layout and design of their search results page for desktops in order to continue to update and improve the user experience. Over the last couple years, Google has been trying to leverage a seamless design for mobile, desktop, and tablet usage through Material Design.
In a multi-screened world, it’s important to maintain and achieve a unified visual design. As marketers, we understand that we can’t always develop loyal users or convert new customers on the very first interaction. This is why it’s essential to hit potential customers through all parts of the funnel and deliver a similar experience. Although functionality may not be different with the newest layout, Google aims to tie together the visual aspect across all its products (Gmail, YouTube, and Calendar).
The average person might not notice these recent tweaks. However, my keen eye immediately spotted the new feature. Have you noticed these minor changes? Flash back to sitting in the dentist’s office, scanning the pages of Highlight magazine and playing “Double Check.” For those of you who aren’t sharing this vivid memory, Double Check offers two almost identical pictures and asks readers to spot the difference.
Below are two identical searches for the term “anti-aging foundations.” The image on the left showcases the new aesthetic changes, while the image on the right is the control. Can you spot the differences?
For this particular example, I’ve circled the changes:
The largest visual change is that the background is now grey and the search results and ads are separated into their own white cards with a slight 3D shadow effect. The new formatting now mimics the look and feel of the android experience, right down to the blue magnifying glass.
Not pictured in my example is the more pressing matter, in which Google’s Knowledge Graph has now been shifted to the middle of the page. This doesn’t appear on every search, but it does raise some flags and pique our interest that Google is testing this move out. Prior to the test, the Knowledge Graph lived on the right side or the top of the search results. It provides extensive content for faster research and exploration, alternatively it’s not a pay-per-click asset. The unfortunate truth is that organic results seem to becoming less and less a priority to Google, assumedly because they can’t be monetized.
Consider how these changes and this shift will affect your business and marketing strategy. Will your organic results continue to be pushed out? Will your paid ads now get a rise in click-through rates due to the prominent positions? None of us know the answers to these questions just yet, but it’s certainly wise to start thinking about them. In the meantime, let’s let the test run its course and keep paying a close eye to account performance, while keeping in mind that Google is continuously rolling out tests and many don’t stick.