Google testing new results layout

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13 March 2014 | 0

Google is testing some changes to the way it displays search results, including a tweak to how it presents paid links that could throw off unsuspecting users.

Paid links in Google’s search results are marked today with a yellow shaded background. Under the experimental layout, which is being widely tested with users, a small yellow button that says ‘Ad’ appears in front of paid links instead.

For some users, the new labeling may suffice to denote what’s an ad and what’s not. But those not paying close attention might find themselves directed to a promotional site without asking for it.

Some don’t think the goal is to get users to click on more paid links.

“Does Google want to increase its click-through rates as much as possible? Yes,” said Leo Dalakos, VP of performance media at Performics, a digital marketing agency. But it’s not in the company’s best interests to have users accidentally click on ads, he said. Doing so might reduce their satisfaction with the service and tempt them to look elsewhere.

The experiment is the latest in a series of tests that play a critical role in how Google designs its products. The company has tested 70 shades of blue just for the color of its links, Dalakos said.

Other Google experiments have involved linking people’s geographic location with the ads they’re shown and the placement of images alongside ads.

Zach Miners, IDG News Service
@zachminers zach_miners@idg.com

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