It was a somewhat small and fleeting change, but a significant one. And it involved the humble favicon. You know; that wee icon that you’re probably more used to seeing in the individual tabs open on your browser.
Google were briefly using favicons on all their search results with page 1 of any result proudly displaying the little favoured icons of the usual suspects of Wikipedia, Twitter and maybe the odd news source. Above these though were 2 or 3 of the new bold Ad favicons to help users differentiate between paid and organic results. Or not, as the case may be!
When internet giants make such changes to their most familiar interfaces it tends to draw more criticism than it does appreciation – and this was no exception. So alas, our mighty search engine overlords were forced to revert back to their tried and tested way of doing things. On one hand it’s good to know that Google isn't deaf to criticism, but on the other hand... we were quite excited about the new changes.
To us it’s a bit of a shame for a few reasons. Firstly, it gave the page a much fresher and more focussed feel that was just generally easier for our busy brains to make sense of. It also made for an interesting improvement on how ad formats were displayed compared to previous incarnations of the search results page. Paid Search has come a long way from the dark days (to us) when it had a mere 10% share of the real estate above the fold, side-lined to the eyeball’s after-thought on the left-hand side. It’s been a steady increase since then though, both in terms of the real estate land grab and Ad, sorry Ad performance.
According to a recent tweet from Google, they’re going to continue testing different search result formats. Meaning that some people will still get the new favicons, and some won’t. We still hold out hope that some kind of compromise will be reached so we can take advantage on behalf of our many PPC clients. We are, of course, always happy to talk paid search though and welcome all and any inquiries, as you can no doubt tell. Just drop me a line anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org or jump over to our website to read about some of our search success stories (like this one about how we increased enquiries by over 400% for Digby Brown) and get in touch that way.