You may have noticed that Google’s Search Engine Results Pages look slightly different. Google started rolling out a change to the look of the desktop version last week which brings it in line to the mobile version’s look. Websites that show up on the results page will now have favicons appear next to the domains.
Google hopes that they will ‘help people quickly and easily find the information that they’re looking for’. They also hope that by having a companies’ branding shown with the results, it will help users understand where the information is coming from. Google has set out some guidelines and a guide to have your favicon appear. If your favicon doesn’t follow the guidelines, it will be removed. The redesign also now shows Ads with a bold ‘Ad’ next to the domain and has changed from green to black.
Do Favicons affect SEO?
For now, the slight change is only a cosmetic look to help users digest the information on the results page. This isn’t an algorithm change and they still don’t have a direct impact on your SEO. However, it’s important to remember that they can have an indirect impact. Usability of a site does affect your SEO ranking and favicons can support a website’s usability by making it easier for users to find your site. With the favicons now showing on Google’s results pages, users may start to trust these sites over others who do not have one. If more people start clicking through to your site, you should start seeing your rankings increase.
Not everyone loves the redesign
The new look hasn’t gone down well with everyone.
This new Google layout is fugly. Not only is it more difficult to quickly determine which site you’re going to click on, but the favicon placement seems to primarily exist in order to make determining Ad vs not Ad more difficult at a glance.
— Joe Sinkwitz (@CygnusSEO) January 16, 2020
Really not a fan of Google putting the favicon in search results now. Most just look tiny and blurry, and it’s a distraction
— Max Lynch (@maxlynch) January 20, 2020
However, if like Lifehacker, you believe the new design has made the search results pages more cluttered, they have listed ways that will allow you to remove them. It’s not just the cluttered look that is turning people off. Many believe that adding the favicons and the new ‘Ad’ favicon look, Google is trying to make their ads stand out less. As more people can now recognise the difference in ads and organic results on the search results page, this doesn’t come as a surprise. In 2018, Google’s ad revenue was over $116 billion and in 2019, Google’s main source of revenue was once again its ads network.
Most new websites will have favicons created when they are built so it’s likely you will not have to do anything for a favicon to appear next to your domain. With it being nearly a year since favicons were added to the mobile version of Google, it’s likely that the favicons are here to stay on desktop as well. If your site is still missing a favicon, it’s worth creating one sooner rather than later to ensure your site can stand out on Google.
Update to the favicons
Following the launch, Google has announced that they will be experimenting with both the existence and placement of the favicons.
Here’s our full statement on why we’re going to experiment further. Our early tests of the design for desktop were positive. But we appreciate the feedback, the trust people place in Google, and we’re dedicating to improving the experience. pic.twitter.com/gy9PwcLqHj
— Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) January 24, 2020
The announcement has come following complaints that the new Search layout for desktop could be indirectly misleading. With the icons being placed in the same place as the ‘AD’ icon, they made the organic and paid results look very similar.
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