Google changed its search layout this past month. Here’s what it impacted:
- How Google displays organic search results
- How Google blends ads in with organic results
- What small business owners need to do to tweak their SEO strategy
The New Google Search Layout Launched. Here’s Everything You Need to Know.
Chances are by now that you’ve noticed the Google search layout has changed. It happens from time-to-time. While Google doesn’t make large-scale changes regularly, when it does, it consults data-backed sources. Because Google is a user-based company, a lot of these changes happen in order to make it a better user experience.
This change was first rolled out for mobile users last year. Starting in January 2020, Google launched the new layout design for desktop users as well. This new layout can impact your search engine optimization (SEO).
Here’s everything you need to know about Google’s new design and what it means for you and your small business.
What is the New Google Search Layout?
The new Google search layout might not look like a whole lot has changed, but it can impact how people view your search results. Here’s how the Google search page layout changed.
The new Google layout changed the appearance of search results. The previous design had the source’s publisher, the URL, below the branded result. Now the URL is on top of the branded result.
The flip in how the URL and branded result are displayed is supposed to help users see where the information is coming from better. Since the URL now has top-billing, users will naturally look there first and see if it is a reputable site.
Google also added a site’s icons to the search results. The icons, called favicons, are displayed prominently next to the search result. This means it might be time for your small business to update its favicon.
To test how your favicon works, look at it from a user’s perspective. Is it still recognizable? The size might depend on how you design your favicon. Because it’s smaller, you want to make sure your favicon doesn’t become unrecognizable. So, be sure to search for your small business in Google and see how your favicon looks.
You will also most likely see more featured snippets. The snippets are excerpts pulled from a top site and displayed as an answer to a Googled question. These snippets draw users away from clicking on the site since they answer the question without having to go to the site.
While this is helpful to the user and the user experience, it can decrease your click-through-rates. People won’t be clicking through to find the answer when it is right there on Google’s search page.
Google also changed how it displays blended ads. Before, the Google display ads used to have a green box around the word “Ad.” Now the word “ad” is bolded and next to the search result. They are less obvious than the old layout. This format helps the ads blend in with the organic results better.
Google’s blended ads format might trick some users who click on them, thinking that they are organic posts.
How are Organic Search Results Affected?
Google’s new search layout is part of a growing trend: fewer organic results. Search for something in Google, and you should see ten organic search results, right? Well, probably not. In fact, you can see anywhere between five-to-ten organic listings now. The number usually settles around seven, depending on what is Googled.
According to WordStream, Google has also dumped 5.5% of organic search results. Ranking in Google’s top 10 might be harder when there isn’t even a top 10 to compete in. Furthermore, WordStream looked at which organic listings show up. Listings that include sitelinks, which are for branded results, show up less than searches without sitelinks. That indicates that your branded result might have to fight harder to crack the top seven.
This decrease in organic posts also contributes to how we see them. Typically, the more popular and authoritative results are shown at a point called “above the fold.” Above the fold means it is the top of the screen. It comes from newspapers when publishers would put the important information above the folded section of the paper. That’s the part people see and what draws them in.
Since 2013, Google has made small tweaks and modifications that added up to more and more organic posts being pushed below the fold. Why? Because Google is giving more favor to paid advertisements.
Listen to Your Existing Customers
The SAVE Framework requires a customer-centric mindset. So, you’re going to need to engage with your customers to start formulating a plan. You can do this through in-person interviews, surveys, or by reaching out on social media.
When you do reach out, you’re going to want to ask your customers questions related to the different elements of SAVE. For example, to get more information for Solution and Value, you can ask your customers how your products or services have benefitted them. You can also learn about Access by asking them how they first found your business, and Education by asking them to list any questions they have about your industry.
In short, the more you engage with your customers, the better equipped you will be to use the SAVE Framework.
Consider Different Marketing Channels
You should also examine whether your business is using the Internet to its full potential. There are many marketing channels available out there, including SEO, social media, email marketing, and reputation management. So, you are going to want to consider how those available channels might be advantageous for connecting with your customers.
Plus, if you’re not sure whether a channel is a good fit for your business, you can always contact a digital marketing expert. An Internet marketing specialist can help you better understand how that marketing channel might benefit your customers.
Brainstorm with Your Team
Transitioning to the SAVE Framework requires a perspective shift, which may seem overwhelming when facing it on your own. However, by getting your employees involved, it can bring new life to your transition.
Your team members may bring things to life you never thought of before. For example, they may see a benefit your product provides that you had never considered.
Also, by discussing this transition with your whole team, you can get everyone on the same page about this perspective shift. This will make it easier for you to move forward with your new SAVE-inspired marketing strategy.
Why Did Google Change Its Look?
Google’s blog, The Keyword, discusses how the change benefits the user. One of the big ways it should help the user is by clarifying which information is reputable. Google does this by putting the URL at the top.
Google also says, “With this new design, a website’s branding can be front and center, helping you better understand where the information is coming from and what pages have what you’re looking for.”
The official Twitter account of Google also tweeted this out as the new layout launched for desktops:
While it does look like the Google redesign has the user’s best interest in mind, you should know what it means for your small business’s SEO and Google rankings.
What Does the New Google Search Layout Mean for You?
With the rollout of the new search layout, it can be daunting to small business owners trying to market their business. The decrease in organic search results over the past few months doesn’t help either.
However, that doesn’t mean SEO is dead or dying. It still is a necessity for small business owners to use to reach more customers better. It just means that going forward, you might have to tweak some things.
This includes looking at featured snippets. You want them to be fulfilling enough for the user, but also tease them to keep reading. The more targeted your information is, the more likely it will be pulled by Google in the search results.
This also means using more local citations to increase how visible you are on Google. More people will have their locations active when Googling, and it helps if your content lines up with where they are. This is especially important as the number of people using their smartphones to Google things increases.
Furthermore, with the addition of blended ads, you want your favicon to stand out more. While using your current logo works well, you might want to think of ways to improve it. Having a favicon stand out against the bolded type of ads can help distinguish your page from advertisements.
Chances are your typical user won’t realize too much has changed. But just as Google tweaked its search layout, you might need to tweak your own strategy to keep up.
Do You Need Help with the New Google Search Layout?
As Google continues to modify its search layout for a better user experience, it might be hard to keep up with the changes. Let us help you! Frontier Marketing works with small business owners in Fox Lake, IL, and the Chicago region to improve their SEO for better results! We can help your business grow, especially in the ever-changing landscape of digital marketing. Give us a call or find us on Facebook to see how we can help!
Update 1/28/20: Google has responded to backlash over the placement of favicons by temporarily taking them down. One common criticism was that the favicons looked too much like the new blended ads. Google will be experimenting with size and placement of favicons.