Google have been running tests on SERP layout for several months now and it seems that today these changes have been rolled out further. Google does occasionally make slight alterations to the search engine results page in the form of new products, colours and layouts but todays update marks a huge change in the overall appearance of the SERP. Check out these before and after makeover shots:
Although tests have been going on for a while now, a change of this significance has taken many people by surprise. Don’t feel bad if you’re one of them, sources are reporting that even Google’s own PPC account team have been kept in the dark about dates and changes too.
The before and after screen shots provide a pretty strong illustration of the visual differences of but here’s a spot the difference breakdown of the major changes:
- The lightly shaded red area for PPC has disappeared
- PPC ads are now denoted with an orange AD on the same line as the URL
- The font size of title tags has increased
- The title tags are no longer underlined
- Where applicable, product listing ads will feature in top position. i.e. above text adverts.
- Introduction of a “card-based design” for some search queries based on Google’s Knowledge Graph.
The Big Reveal
The expansion of this SERP layout has received mixed reaction from users on Facebook and Twitter but the new interface offers greater opportunities for PPC listings. Here are just some of the repercussions of the new page.
- PPC ads are again more prominent as the only distinguishing feature between natural is the small AD label. This is not really a major surprise as natural search results do not generate any revenue from search click throughs.
- Depending on the search query (i.e. if a search triggers product listing images) ,PPC ads will have greater dominance in the immediate results page. Recent research commissioned by Marin found that we process images 60,000 times faster than text so it makes perfect sense that we are starting to see a greater integration of PLAs
- Title tags appear via pixels size and are not down to character length. An increased font means tags will have to be shortened.
- Getting your site links branded on keywords is even more important as competitors CTR may rise with keywords.
- The “card based design” evidences Google’s move to a more mobile friendly results page. Just another hint from Google that mobile friendly sites are becoming increasingly important.
For Google to have widened the implementation of this SERP changes means that they must have seen a positive impact on CTR for PPC adverts but they are as keeping pretty tight-lipped. The changes are also likey to have some impact on the volume of organic results click throughs but it’s too early to gauge just what this will be. Stay tuned!!