Google has issued an official statement in response to widespread criticism of its recent changes to desktop search results.
Last week, Google updated the look of paid and organic search results on desktop. The most noticeable changes include favicons next to desktop search results, and a plain black “Ad” label next to paid results.
For reference, here is the new look of desktop search results:
And here is the old version:
Google claims the new “Ad” label is more prominent, though many would argue (and have argued) it makes paid results virtually indistinguishable from organic results.
Google is listening to the feedback and says, starting today, it will begin experimenting with new placements for favicons.
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….
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) January 24, 2020
During the experiment, which is said to last several weeks, some users will not see favicons at all and others will see favicons in different placements.
Google’s full statement on the matter is as follows:
“We’re dedicated to improving the desktop experience for Search, and as part of our efforts we rolled out a new design last week, mirroring the design that we’ve had for many months on mobile. The design has been well received by users on mobile screens, as it helps people more quickly see where information is coming from and they can see a prominent bolded ad label at the top. Web publishers have also told us they like having their brand iconography on the search results page. While early tests for desktop were positive, we are always incorporating feedback from our users. We are experimenting with a change to the current desktop favicons, and will continue to iterate on the design over time.”
Note that there’s no mention of any changes to the “more prominent” black Ad label. Presumably, the new label will remain unchanged for the foreseeable future.