Following the toll generated by its new results page (SERP) on desktop in mid-January, causing confusion between sponsored links and natural results, Google has just announced new tests to return to a clearer situation. At first, the favicons seem to have disappeared …
In mid-January, Google implemented the same SERP on desktop as on mobile, with the URL in black above the title and a favicon to the left of the address. Following this change, many voices were heard (as here in May 2019 for the mobile version) to explain that with this new look, we were making even less than before the distinction between advertising and natural links. This problem was all the more important in the English-speaking world since the sponsored links were decked out with an Ad very visually close to a favicon (while the French ad was more visible). In addition, it must be admitted that the readability of desktop results suffered terribly (integration into mobile results seems to be much better at UX level). It was just very ugly, in fact And the risk of manipulation of the user at the level of confusion between purchased and natural results was far from negligible
Faced with this raising of shields (which, strangely, was not very strong when launching the mobile interface, yet very similar but, as said before, certainly better achieved in terms of UX) , Google acted by indicating that it was going to set up several tests in order to place (or not) the favicons certain places of the SERP.
Expect therefore, in the coming days and weeks, to view different SERPs depending on the time and the pool of benevolent testers in which you will be. For example, with us, this morning, the favicons had disappeared from the results. Is it temporary or final? We can think that the engine will carry out several tests to be, this time, not to crash
SERP on January 27: the favicon disappeared with us. Image Source: Ultimate SEO
Last week we updated the look of Search on desktop to mirror what s been on mobile for months. We ve heard your feedback about the update. We always want to make Search better, so we re going to experiment with new placements for favicons.
Google SearchLiaison (@searchliaison) January 24, 2020
Tweet from Google announcing the next tests on desktop SERPs. Image Source: Twitter