Like all search engines, Google is constantly changing its algorithms in order to prevent its competitors from catching up and to keep the rest of the web on its toes. (For example, while search engine optimization companies used to think that META keyword tags were the most important part of Google’s formula, most have figured out by now that the keyword tag is mostly irrelevant.)
Every now and then, though, Google changes something that affects virtually every person on the web: the layout of its search engine results page.
Last month, Google did just that.
The changes were mostly aesthetic (Google changed the color of the font of META description tags from black to grey; increased the size of the text; removed the underlines; added a line between AdWords and organic search results), but there are two changes that could affect your marketing strategy and, ultimately, your bottom line.
Change #1 – Google now displays 50 characters of the title tag on desktops and laptops instead of 60, which means that designers and optimizers will have be more succinct. Previously, search engine optimization companies had a little more leeway.
Why the change: it seems that Google is gradually moving the internet toward a unified space, a “one web” world (as opposed to a desktop web, a tablet web, and a mobile web.) In addition, there is much more blank space on the page, which makes the web seem a little less crowded.
Does it matter: the 50-character title tags have been a standard for mobile search engine results pages for a while now, so this isn’t too radical a change. While search engine optimization companies may have to rearrange the format of the title tags or push the most important phrases towards the front, this change is only minor. In addition, if a title tag is not changed and is cut off at the end, this should only affect click-through-rates, not the page’s ranking on Google.
Change #2 – Google removed the light, yellow background behind paid advertisements, diminishing the distinction between paid and organic search results. Now, the only difference between paid and organic search is a tiny, yellow “Ad” icon to the left of the URL.
Why the change: the bottom line is that paid advertising is better for Google’s bottom line than organic advertising is. AdWords has become a lucrative business venture for the multi-billion dollar corporation. Yet, statistics show that web users generally trust organic search results more than paid search results. Our guess is that Google is making the two as similar as possible in order to encourage search engine optimization companies to invest more money in AdWords.
Does it matter: probably, yes. The change is most likely going to drive up the profitability of paid search advertising on Google. What that means, exactly, is still unclear.
In short, the changes are mostly minor, but the truncation of the display of the title tags and the removal of the light, yellow background behind paid advertisements may mean that search engine optimization companies need to slightly alter their operating practices.
As Google changes its processes, the rest of the web is trying to keep up. In that sense, there is nothing new under the sun.