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Update as of January 24, 2020:
After Google received negative feedback about favicons in organic search results, they have rolled back the favicon portion of this update. The other changes including updates to the Ad symbol and breadcrumb placement remain intact.
On January 13, 2020, Google announced that a new site design would be rolling out on desktop devices, presenting site domain names and brand icons prominently on organic results, along with a bolded “Ad” label for ads.
Why this change?
This is the same design Google launched on mobile back in May 2019 and has now broadened to desktop. Google said this format will help people “better understand where the information is coming from” and “more easily scan the page of results and decide what to explore next.”
For paid text ads, the Ad symbol has changed from green to bolded, with the display URL now appearing more dominantly above the headlines, so users can quickly identify who is presenting the information in the ad. Below is a sample side by side view of the changes that took effect on mobile devices in 2019:
For organic listings, the site name and breadcrumbs have also changed from green text below the title to black text next to the favicon and both display above the title link. Google has also removed the gray line below the organic titles and ad headlines so each card looks more like a single unit.
Google is allowing site owners to define their favicons by following these instructions.
Greenlane’s Point of View
As with all changes coming from Google, there is a bit of a grace period before the impact of those changes can be fully understood. With the line between paid text ads and organic listings now blurring, there is anticipation that clickthrough rates will shift from organic results to paid ads. Greenlane will be monitoring our clients’ accounts closely over the coming months. Once we have a clearer understanding of how searchers are interacting with the new design, recommendations for changes in organic or paid listings will be communicated.