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Google Search Design Blends The Looks of Paid and Organic Results

Google Search Design Blends The Looks of Paid and Organic Results

New Google’s redesigns that have gained momentum at the beginning of 2020 are now the most widely discussed technological advent among experts. The aim of the design change is to refashion the way Google displays search ads. Now the organic search results and ads are differentiated by the assigned color. 

The Big Tech giant is known for its practice of continuous updates to search algorithms to better deliver web pages ranked by relevance on its SERPs; the issue of advertising limited search engine ability to optimize the URLs displays.


Sometimes big companies have to sacrifice the one for the many – and that’s exactly what Google did – decided to opt for users’ liability rather than profits from paid search ads.

In this article, we will consider Google’s new course to search redesign and how it will benefit advertisers.   

Google’s Desktop Search Redesign

The new update has already raised some criticism from users over the outcome of Google’s experiment. Most concerns relate to the way the lines blurred between ads and organic results look. On the 24th of January, Google gave a definitive opinion on the matter, saying it will continue to experiment with the designs until it’s devs come up with the ultimate decision.

Google has already introduced some results of the design update on the desktop; the company made paid ads links look more like unpaid results. Furthermore, the ads will now appear on your first Google’s page with “add” words next to them. 

For comparison, let’s take a closer look at Google’s search design and how it has changed over the past years. For example, Google previously used yellow and green “Ad” highlights to make a distinction between ads and organic search results. The latest adjustments to favicons and the introduction of extra header text intend to define the information sources. 

The following report provides the company’s latest comments on this matter.

“We’re dedicated to improving the desktop experience for Search, and as part of our efforts we presented a new design last week, mirroring the design that we’ve had for many months on mobile,” a Google spokeswoman said, “We are experimenting with a change to the present desktop favicons, and will continue to utter the design over time.”

Additionally, the company claims that the current brand icons and the “Ad” word option may not be present in the next versions, though it emphasizes on ads labeling. 

Google’s stats show that the company makes up to 3,500 updates to search algorithms and design to satisfy the users’ expectations regarding the ongoing technological change. It is noteworthy that Google values the core objectives of every business and wants to help organizations earn profit for their growth and development; namely when a user clicks on a Google Search Ad, he sees a useful and relevant source of information. 

The Backlash

Continuing on, before the company’s experiments with search redesign were made public,  experts claimed that while the latest attempts were aimed at strengthening UX, the design iteration is a clear response to withering criticism from business owners. 

Google recently attended an antitrust investigation into the company’s search and private data stores. With the advent of new regulations such as GDPR and California’s new privacy act, the third-party cookie support will be ceased within two years. This means that Google and other ad networks will need to channel their efforts to developing alternative methods of tracking and targeting to get an accurate view of the user’s search behavior.

Legislators Consider Google’s Search Redesign as Nothing More But Company’s New Effort to Cash in on Small Businesses

The contrasting yet blatant claims came recently from legislators concerning the search redesign issue. The Washington Post reported Friday that one of today’s American leading businessmen and politicians, Sen. Mark Warner, alleged Google of speculation on both devoted consumers and small businesses, calling it “yet another evidence of a platform taking advantage of its global market dominance for monetary gain”. Google further contended for its defense that the latest design switch is the preview of further extension it has announced last summer, that was aimed to advance the design of mobile searches. Nevertheless, the recent change to desktop search design suggests otherwise and has already aroused the fury of a significant number of users. 

And speaking of exploitation, the company called Alphabet has already experienced the real signals of the slump in its digital advertising business. Specifically, the Alphabet’s ad profits have decreased at the beginning of 2019 compared to the company’s last year’s net profit stats. 

After the Alphabet’s poor business performance in October 2019, the stock market has experienced a severe decline but eventually revived. Currently, Wall Street is widely bullish on the company’s ad business, that is how the company saw its market cap rise to trillion dollars for first-time. 

Below is the desktop example of the redesigned search: 

Google search opportunities
Google search opportunities

A Rise in Clicks

According to Nina Hale’s report, her business’s online performance has been positively affected by the growth of AdWords click-through rate. Particularly, the company’s stats estimate the increase of 17% compared with the first half of January. This is exactly what happened to Jumpshot and Sparktoro jointly; the company saw its online performance improved by a leap of 15% in click-through rates. Sparktoro co-founder Rand Fishkin reported that he foresees desktop ad click rates to come out the same. 

Fishkin suggests that the new update to organic results’ look closely mirrors that of an ad, making it harder for searchers to differentiate the two, whilst helping businesses to maintain high ad click-through rates. He also conjectured on why it took so long for Google to work through the desktop search design; according to Fishkin’s theory, Google knows exactly what it’s doing with its ads and what commercial purpose the mutual search design serves. In this regard, he finds Google’s approach perfect since it makes the distinction between search results imperceptible in the hope to boost online activity rates. The company has been procrastinating on the introduction of the design update because they wanted to wait until the perfect time comes to launch the project. 

Another critical thought, proposed by the senior director at Marc USA’s ad agency towards Google, matches the above, suggesting that the visual change is Google’s fraudulent means to increase the percentage of search click-through rate. Kagan suggests that the company aims to visually obscure the lines between ad links and natural sources’ display 

Though Jonathan Kagan evidenced a minor increase in quick-restaurant ad clicks in a relatively short period of time, other advertising categories such as health care haven’t experienced any changes.

The Contrasting View

Gareth Cleevely, VP and head of search at global business marketing agency iProspect suggests that organic listings, as well as paid ones, are not much different from each other. Various businesses spend equal sums of money on both organic and paid advertising in order to improve their online performance. He also noted that today’s marketing landscape is homogeneous and that Google’s update is an obvious and integral part of that.

Clevely’s view is based mainly on the way advertisements affect consumer prejudices on ad processing. Since the ultimate goal of advertising is to seduce the consumer and make him believe in and regard the product/service the way advertisers want, it isn’t in the slightest bit mysterious that people have a biased view of advertising. And that is exactly what Google and other digital ad platforms hope to change.

After all, consumer willingness to spend depends on their general affiliation to the product/service and their liking towards the advertisement, and Google’s is pretty clear about that; its sponsored ads have always been kept separate from the organic links.

In fact, Google aims to align customer journey improvements to its business metrics relying on smart strategic CX strategy. The company representatives recently stated that advertisers will be monitored subject to adaptability to new advertising standards and thus be punished in monetary terms if their advert does not conform to the user’s inquiries. It is crucial for a Big Tech giant like Google to be clear and honest about the campaign goals of all forms of advertising.

No matter what search results appear on the first search page (paid or organic URLs), you are likely to click on the one that corresponds with your query. Chris Apostle, Chief Media officer in iCrossing says the largest portion of Internet traffic (80%) is obtained from users clicking on the natural URLs. Indeed, we tend to engage with advertisements that match our overall expectations toward the product.

Nevertheless, in the end, regardless of the URLs display, we tend to favor sites that have worked through their optimization tools, responsiveness, and content.

The Contrasting View
Google Search Design

Final Thoughts

Back in the days, the original Google page contained short and sweet-form content and was characterized by minimalistic design. The search pattern consisted of an unaligned text field and search icon. And nothing more. The search was executed with warp speed and there were links to web pages that consisted of relevant summaries – an ultimate perfection when there is no longer anything to remove or boost. The algorithm Google was implementing that days indexed the links, providing an infinite competition for the already financially strapped companies, and was aimed to boost traffic to pages. The Big Tech search engine employed professional and enthusiastic engineers that could design a smart solution in an instant without requiring any supervision. 

Times have changed, and so have  Google’s concept of ideology, the old design and technology have been completely erased, as new technological advances eclipse everything.

To sum up, Google has presented its new approach to search design and wants to achieve a homogeneous and natural design pattern. We are looking forward to further development of the update as well as a more clear explanation of the purpose of the redesign. Even though the engine’s focus on user-friendly strategy has diminished, it never fails to amaze its users with new innovations. 

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