Since 2007, Google has made continual design changes to how it displays ads on search results pages – first on desktop, and then mobile.
Figure 1 shows a great compilation from Search Engine Land of the changes Google has made over the years.
Notice how from pre-2007 to 2013, ads were set apart by shaded boxes, with Google experimenting with different colors and contrasts.
Google then removed the boxes and added labels. (In 2016, Google moved ads from the right sidebar to the top and bottom of the search results pages.)
Since 2013, the ad labels, which have also changed in color, were directly beneath the headline for both mobile and desktop – until very recently.
During the week of May 20th 2019, the search giant began rolling out its latest evolution of its mobile search results design.
Instead of the small green “Ad” label beneath the ad headline, users will now see a black “Ad” label next to the headline (see bottom of Figure 1).
Organic listings will now show a website’s favicon next to the headline of the organic listing. (A favicon is usually the site’s logo icon or other similar image.) For example:
How this change impacts manufacturers
If you run Google ads, it’s now a little harder (or easier, depending on your perspective) for mobile searchers to see the difference between paid ads and organic search results.
If you rely on Organic to drive conversions, the favicon is another small way to reinforce your brand.
Note how the Google ad label and the website favicon for Titan Abrasive’s ads and Organic listings are now both inline and directly next to their respective listing headline.
To see if you’ve been impacted by this change, do a search for your website using your mobile device. For some sites we review, the favicon is missing. A web designer can easily add it for you if this is the case.
We wouldn’t be surprised if Google makes this change to desktop search results as well. Google is constantly testing things, and focusing on mobile first.
Google announces core algorithm update
Google continually updates its search algorithm; sometimes these updates can have a huge negative or positive impact with regard to classes of websites.
In August 2018, Google rolled out what is now termed the “Medic Update.” Websites that presented health, diet, and medical information were penalized if they lacked E-A-T: Expertise, Authority, and Trustworthiness.
See our write up, Google E-A-T: What It Means for Manufacturers.
Google recently stated it’s currently rolling out its June 2019 Core Update. Although it’s not a major update, it may still impact websites and their rankings. Google performs these updates to provide better search results. If a website or its pages drop in rankings, the only “fix” is to create better content (or a better website).
Can you Google-proof your website?
Over the years, we’ve received calls from companies who have seen a drop in rankings and traffic or an outright ban from Google’s search engine.
Usually these cases are due to third-parties subjecting the website to tricks and gimmicks: adding blog posts to dozens of websites, spammy link practices, and other things that run afoul of Google.
Although there’s no guarantee that your website won’t be affected by an algorithm update, staying on the right side of Google is fairly straightforward:
Simply follow Google’s stated guidelines for SEO, content creation, link building, etc.
You should also make it a practice to review your Google Analytics and Google Search Console data on a regular basis. Here are some key figures to review.
- User and Session traffic — Current month, previous month, YTD, current period vs. same time previous year
- Organic — Same as for User / Session traffic, plus look at Goal acquisition. Are conversions up or down and why?
- Manual actions — This is where Google will let you know if it’s banned your website (if you’re lucky)
- Security issues — Google will tell you if your site has been infected with malware
- Links — The sites linking to yours; the more links you have from high-quality websites, the better
Thank you to Rachel Cunliffe for contributing to this piece.
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