Google recently announced a visual refresh of mobile search results pages which will impact the format of both paid and organic search results. As this update is rolled out, all paid and organic search results on mobile will be more clearly anchored to their source – with the source website displayed at the top of each search result along with the website’s branded icon (favicon) in organic results and a bolded, black “Ad” label in paid results.
This new mobile design is intended to support more prominent branding in organic search results and allow for the addition of more image previews and action buttons. As such, user experience should be positively impacted through improved visibility into where the information in each search result is coming from and what users can expect as they interact with each search result. This update ultimately aligns with Google’s evolution toward more visually-rich search results, which have proven to resonate well with users and drive stronger engagement for brands.
Implications for organic search
Stronger branding and utility of organic search results could positively influence organic engagement – which is notable not just in terms of potential traffic impact but also because CTR is considered to be a potential signal of quality and relevance used by Google in their ranking mechanisms.
As Google continues to add more interactive elements within organic search results, marketers should consider the following in order to capitalize on these changes:
- Is your favicon eye-catching?
- Is your brand recognizable and authoritative?
- Can Google identify related/supporting images on the page, and understand their relevance to the user’s query?
- Site Structure/Architecture
- Is Google able to understand page relationships enough to re-package supporting/related content or products?
These points should be considered in addition to pre-existing SERP optimization opportunities utilized across both desktop and mobile results: metadata elements, such as title tags and meta descriptions, and structured data elements, such as product pricing, star ratings and availability. All of these principles align with RMI long-term organic planning recommendations – but the recent Google mobile SERP update brings the visual recommendations to the forefront.
Additional considerations for brands
While it’s too soon to speculate on the potential impact of this redesign, brands should keep the following additional considerations in mind and continue to closely monitor engagement across paid and organic search:
- The increasingly streamlined look of all search results, with the ad label and organic favicon in the same location of each search result, could blur the lines between paid and organic results and lead to differences in engagement between the two channels.
- If users begin to value the credibility added by the favicon in organic results, there may be a negative organic impact for brands with lower awareness or resellers. However, the opposite could occur if the sheer presence of a favicon (regardless of brand strength) adds credibility.
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