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Google Testing a New and Cleaner Search Engine Results Page

May 13, 2011 by Dustin

Recently Google has begun testing a new search engine results page (SERP) with a limited group of Google users. It is unknown what criteria Google used to determine which users were given this opportunity and because there is no opt in for testing most users can only experience the new page via screenshots.

It remains unclear whether or not Google will further expand this sample testing or even continue in the same direction once they acquire usability feedback. Due to the limited testing being fairly recent no real results have been released other than the initial feedback from users that the new page is ugly or that it looks better, which really depends only on the users taste and not the designs usefulness.

Google SERP Google Testing a New and Cleaner Search Engine Results Page 

From Google, May 2011

For the users that were not selected to participate in the new results page trial you can view the changes at Google’s New Search Interface. As you can see from the screen capture it seems that Google has eliminated or scaled down the amount of information provided for each search result. The text has also decreased in size and appears cleaner with more white space. The older results page features a darker blue, green, and purple text color whereas the new page showcases brighter but muted pastel colors. The new colors go a long way to make the page look prettier but don’t offer the same contrast as the old page and instead can make it harder for some users to view because the bright on white color scheme. In addition there is also less page identification because the page title is no longer underlined.

Whenever there is a change with Google we have to ask how will this impact Search Engine Optimization? The main concern with this trial SERP is with the increase in white space between search results. Although the page certainly looks cleaner, the insertion of more space creates less room for search results and presents less page information. Due to this spacing more results are being pushed below the fold and unless a user has a huge computer monitor they will need to scroll to view the others. This of course means more work to get a higher ranking, even if you were satisfied with the number five position it is more than likely that you won’t be any longer because your page will now fall below the fold.

The new search results interface seems to do very little in the way of improving the search experience. The addition of more white space and the change in color scheme as refreshing as they may be also create negative impacts on the user experience. The whole concept of usability testing is to see the reaction of users and work out these types of problems. This type of testing allows Google to showcase new designs, acquire feedback, make changes, and create the best product possible. In the coming weeks, as the testing progresses be sure to keep an eye on what the new SERP contributes to the search experience and what direction Google decides to take after analyzing the testing results and user feedback.

What do you think? Do you like the new search results page?

Compare the results pages

Thanks for reading!


Internet Beacon


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