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Google mobile search changes improve the UI

& make ads a little less obvious

A subtle change has been rolled this week on Google mobile search. This change is to re-use the favicon (still unsure how to pronounce that) as part of the search 'card' as well as shifting the url to above the listing rather than below the heading & generally tightening up the layout saving a couple of pixels in vertical space for every listing. For adverts the word Ad is used insead of the favicon.

Also aps installed on your phone are also called out within the listing as part of the continuing blurring - on phones at least - between what is a website optimized for mobile & what is an app. I guess as mobile traffic motors past all other traffic (past 60% now) the essense of what the web is is now reverting back to the 1990s when a variety of competing ways of retrieving information like finger & gopher, competed with the web protocol for people's attention

The overall effect is strong, not having the urls in green seems an improvement. One subtle change is to line everything up by using a favicon for organic results & the word Ad in black (rather than in green & in a box) for paid results. In total this seemingly innocuous change completely de-emphasises which listings are paid & which are organic. Now at a glance ads completely blend in with organic listings.

I guess the next step is to stop ads from appearing in pre-positioned places on the pages (i.e. top & bottom plus right hand side in some viewports) & intersperse them with the organic listings. So that ads are easier to click on & we can rewind to 2001 & see organic results at the top of the page - which sounds like a win/win for everyone.

I think the UX of the mobile search UI is improved & given that many people find irrelevant whether they are clicking on an ad or an organic listing I can't see any fundamental objections. The take away for me is that Google continue to invest in simplifying or trying to simplify search & that the blurring of what is an advert continues at a time when many influencers are being pillaried for going too far down this road.