Backlash prompts Google to switch back from favicon inspired SERPs

On January 13, Google rolled out a brand new look of Search Results for desktop users. The redesigned look clearly displayed brand favicon by the side of a domain name in addition to a bolded “Ad” label for ads. The design changes on the mobile version were replicated on the desktop.

google search redesign
Google’s new search result design

Google had laid out guidelines for site owners on the preferred icon to appear next to Google Search listings. But the redesigned look of search results faced a backlash from the users, press as well as politicians across the globe. The flagging of issues has led Google to revisit its design.

Users’ outrage was due to difficulty in differentiating between links against Ads and companies’ ‘favicons.’ The SERP on the desktop including favicons and extra header text had started giving an impression of all ads.

Google tried to defend the re-design when the initial reactions started pouring on. Industry pundits and even Senator Mark Warner (D-VA) were quick to comment on the increasing unethical practices of Google.

Favicon and Ads of Google

“We’ve seen multiple instances over the last few years where Google has made paid advertisements ever more indistinguishable from organic search results,” Warner told the Post. “This is yet another example of a platform exploiting its bottleneck power for commercial gain, to the detriment of both consumers and also small businesses.”

The analysis of the changes in search results for the past 10 years has indicated the greed of Google. The recent strategy adopted by Google is to counter the decline in its advertising revenues. When Google had started the search services there was a clear demarcation between paid ads and search results. Now over the years, there has been a gradual disappearance of the line between Ads and organic search results.

Post receiving negative feedback from all quarters, Google announced it had heard and had started the process of rollback of changes. Keeping its users’ interests foremost, Google refuted that the intention of the redesign was purely to make Search function optimal. Google informed that in the coming days, it will continue with its experiment of “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…. Our experimenting will begin today. Over the coming weeks, while we test, some might not see favicons while some might see them in different placements as we look to bring a modern look to desktop….

Users even gave feedback to Google to put up a green box against the ‘Ads’ label. This will help them to identify paid ads against link previews of organic search results.

Written by Rashmi


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