In May last year, Google announced as part of a wider redesign that the layout for search results on mobile would be getting a refresh. The feature that stood out most to agencies, advertisers (and some customers) was the new ‘bold’ ad label that, in my opinion, attempts to further blur the distinction between ads and organic results. On the back of those changes on mobile, Google have now said they’re rolling out similar tweaks to desktop results too.
On Monday (January 13th, 2020), Google’s Public Liaison of Search tweeted the following mock up, mentioning that the new design will be ‘rolling out to desktop results this week’.
The revised layout places the destination URLs above your headlines or meta title. For organic results, your website’s favicon is displayed prominently to the left of your URL – a great first opportunity to fit a small piece of your branding into results. For advertisers, you’ll see a small but bold ‘Ad’ label accompanying your website URL.
The revamp to search results on desktop, I believe, will be beneficial to advertisers, at least in terms of an improved click-through rate (‘CTR’). Whilst Google explains the ‘Ad’ label is bold and prominent, its position is clever. At a quick glance it becomes difficult to differentiate between an ad label and some website favicons, meaning users who’ve never wished to engage with a paid search advert are potentially more likely to click through. Once the user clicks the ad, it’s all down to your website to secure the conversion.
The general consensus from those in industry and those who chose to respond to Google’s public announcement of the new design on Twitter are all reaching the same conclusion – the ability to distinguish between ads and organic results continues to become more difficult. It could be argued that since Google must display when a result is an advert, the decision to include the website favicon is geared towards making organic results look more like an ad, rather than vice versa. Either way, we have the same end product – results that are difficult to distinguish between paid and organic, which I believe will truly benefit businesses using Google Ads’ Expanded Text Ads.