Apparently Google has been testing a new layout over the past couple of months – see the image below – predominantly in the UK, but the frequency of its occurring today may indicate it could be launching it on a more permanent basis soon. The changes look to be part of the company’s settlement of the European antitrust action.
So what has changed with this new SERP layout? First the color background of Google Adwords found at the top of the results is no longer there. Instead Google has placed an orange ad button to the left of the ad and a clear line between the ad and the organic results.
The dropping of the color background allows the ad copy to meld in to the organic results, but given the recent agreement the button and thin line provides their requirement worked out with the European Commission on Competition. The commission announced the tentative agreement last month.
“The European Union’s antitrust watchdog says Google is offering new and far-reaching concessions to address allegations it is abusing its dominant position in Internet searches,” the Mercury News reported.
Though the agreement has not been ratified, Google is moving to implement the changes negotiated and the commission released a press statement.
Other Google SERP Elements Changed
It appears Google has increased the font of the Titles and thus decreased character count displayed – will this change the number of optimum characters used for SEO purposes in Europe?
The use of bold text in the title also loses the highlighting of the search term that Google now applies. This will also be lost in the rich snippet links which are also bold and no longer the blue links previously used.
These changes will create different behaviors and have all type of business areas running to analyse and adapt. The user experience has changed as the antitrust action desired. Now UX people will be watching the heat maps to see their impact.
Hat tip to Dan Baker for capturing the search results and posting to Twitter.
UPDATE: So these are now rolled out globally – interestingly they dropped the bold text guessing thought better as then the search terms can be bolded in results as they have used prior and got them higher CTRs and thus more income. They have also started playing with ads at bottom of search listings again.New Google SERP Layout Per European Antitrust Agreement by FrankWatson