Have you been on Google lately? If so, you probably noticed a strange difference in your search results: big icons next to every result on the page. It was part of Google’s brand new look, but not everyone was prepared for the change.
This isn’t the first time Google has deployed a major change to the way it serves up results to visitors. Recently, the company integrated a state-of-the-art AI called BERT with its search engine to understand natural speech and writing even better. Tap or click here to learn more about these changes.
With Google’s new changes, users will see visible, graphical tweaks next to their search engine results. Google thought it could help combat misinformation from spreading on its platforms, but enough complaints are forcing it to backtrack the changes. Here’s how it’s rolling them back.
Google retracts changes, will test out alternatives
If you attempt to look up something on Google today, you may be surprised to see changes. For desktop users, every result includes a small icon indicating the source website. Ads will feature bolded text and an “Ad” icon to stand out from ordinary results.
But this might not be the case for much longer. Google has received feedback about the changes, and not everyone is happy with them.
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….— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) January 24, 2020
In short, expect the icons to appear and disappear. Depending on how the “experimentation” goes along with user feedback, your search results might end up looking the way they did in the past.
As an example of the recent changes for our readers, if you looked up The Kim Komando Show on Google, you would see large icons next to every result.
Each result comes with a small icon that shows the branding of its source. The Komando.com results feature our website’s icon, while the YouTube channel and Wikipedia page for Kim feature their website’s respective symbols.
But why the backtrack?
Google initially had logical reasons for making the move. According to the company, this was a direct effort to combat misinformation spreading around the web, and would help searchers make better decisions about the sites they visit.
Unfortunately, a big criticism for the change has to do with ads, which now look almost identical to organic search results. Whether Google values its ad business over its informational business remains to be seen.
The format puts a site’s brand front & center, helping searchers better understand where information is coming from, more easily scan results & decide what to explore. Learn more about the new look in our post from last year, when it launched on mobile: https://t.co/Or3YLOHk35— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) January 13, 2020
Should the changes stick around, fraudulent websites and shady sources will stick out like sore thumbs compared to their mainstream counterparts, which will help users avoid the pitfalls of malicious websites and fake news.
That is, of course, until the scammers behind these sites figure out the power of graphic design. And decent spelling, for that matter. Tap or click here to see a perfect example of a shoddy scam site that won’t pass the smell test.
Of course, there is a chance this change could backfire on Google. The company has already been criticized for playing favorites with search results, and fledgling websites that don’t have adequate graphics or resources may suffer as a result. Tap or click here to see some of the accusations.
Ultimately, this may prove to be a benefit to Google users, but it’ll be a while before we know whether the changes were worth it. In the meantime, make sure to scan your search results carefully. Fake and malicious sites will be easier to spot now, more than ever.