Google has changed its search results page, and it blurs the line between ads and natural search results

Arif Bacchus

If you’ve been browsing Google recently, you might have noticed that it looks a bit different. The search engine now has a bit of a new design, which changes the results page, and blurs the line between ads and natural search results.

We first noticed this change today, but it would appear as though Google first put this new results page design into effect sometime this past weekend. The new UI now features smaller website icons that are similar to a web browser’s icon, or “favicon”, which you would get if you save the website on your favorites bar. It also has smaller URLs on the top of the name of a result, and extra header text with the title page of a website, which Google says can help prevent the spread of misinformation.

Google explains that this change “puts a site’s brand front & center, helping searchers better understand where information is coming from, more easily scan results & decide what to explore.” However, as noted by Johnny Makes on Twitter, this redesign might not really good news.

When put up against Bing, where Ads are usually only on the top or bottom of the page, the new Google Search results makes it harder to tell ads from regular and relevant search results. As noted by Johnny, Google’s search results page now has ads at various points in the results and not just the top.

Ads are indeed labeled with a bold text to indicate their purpose, but they can now look just like regular search results. These ads can also be placed almost anywhere in the search results. Johnny searched for “Socks” to confirm this, and the ratio of ads to regular results was 3:4. Turning on an adblocker, though, removes all ads entirely.

Microsoft’s own Bing search engine is always evolving, just like Google, and it will be interesting to see if it follows suit with similar changes. Bing once had its own problems with malicious websites, and even child porn but Google’s changes might mark a new moment in the battle of the search engines. Just make sure you don’t get Scroogled.