Favicon Now Showing

Google have done it again. Another change to the search results.

This time it is the addition of your site’s favicon.

What is a favicon you ask? Well it that little image that appears in the web address bar in your browser. This now appears at the start of the line for each website listing in the search results. What Google are trying to make the serps prettier? Do you think this helps or hinders the decision making process?

Google’s reason for making this change IMHO, I believe is not to pretty up the search results pages (serps) but to further manipulate the look and feel of the listings, to their own advantage.

Why would this be so?

Fair question, but it is no mistake on Google’s part to place this favicon in the exact same position as the “Ad” icon on their (prioritised) paid advertisements. See the images below to get an idea of what I am talking about.

favicon in search results like ads
New serp with favicon looking suspiciously similar now to an Advertisement.

Before, ads were fairly easy to identify and now they are a little more difficult to distinguish between what is an ad and what is an organic or free listing.

Some may remember the Google penalty back in February of 2014, which was labelled the “Layout Penalty” where a site which was deliberately displaying advertisements at the very top of their website, was penalised for “not providing the user with a good user experience”. Really? Yep that is what that demotion was all about.

So now we Google eating their own words and not only at times pushing more ads and Google products to the user, when we all use Google to find the most unbiased and best ranking results, but now we have to push through this every increasing clutter provided by the company who’s motto used to be, “Don’t be evil”. Hmmm I am getting the strong feeling of, “don’t do as I do but do as I SAY!” from them.

favicon in search results
Old serp without favicon

And for the observant among you will see there is another major change in the layout of the search results listings. Can you spot what it is?

Right, the Headline used to take precedence but now it is the URL or web address in the top position of the listing. I have put the two together in the above image to show you the difference.

The Headline which is the Meta Title of the page, is still there but the favicon and the URL now occupy the top line.

Ok just call me a skeptic but that is my take on the latest offering we have to deal with in the serps and Google’s antics.

Now will someone come up with a browser plugin that strips out all the non-organic clutter from the serps and allows us to see just the pure organic results, like when Google first started? I get it they need to make money to stay in business but their every encroaching boundary line seems to be creeping closer and closer to the no organic just ads page one.

Maybe then it will make it easier to just skip to page 2, or then again it may spell the end of the line for a once great “user experience” in the search stakes.

So what do you think? Does this make the user experience easier to spot an ad to avoid, if that is your thing or does it make it more difficult as I am seeing it?

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