The SEO community are well aware of Google’s continuous testing and updating of their search algorithms. The fluctuations that major updates cause ripple through the SEO world as client websites start to move up or down in the rankings. It’s part of life for SEOs and with more than one update per day, this continuous testing and updating is certainly part of life for the team at Google.
What we don’t seem to notice as much are the changes to design. These user interface changes don’t attract the same fanfare as algorithm updates and they may not be daily, but they do occur very regularly. Have a look at Search Engine Roundtable’s archive of user interface changes to see how many there are and to keep up to date.
If you take the time to notice these design changes, you’ll be surprised at how search has changed over the years. You may also be surprised at how often Google tests new designs, reverts or implements them.
In the past month Google appears to have conducted two noticeable tests for their user interface. Note that these UI changes are seen on desktop in the UK.
1) In Mid-May they started to test tiles (sometimes with a drop shadow) for each individual result
2) In Mid-June whilst they had removed the tiles, they implemented them for website sitelinks. They also included a ‘more results’ loader for page 2 and beyond, loading in a vertical feed format instead of a new page.
It is the latter that we woke up to this morning in the UK. Honestly, we hadn’t even noticed that Google had removed the drop-shadow tile designs! Shows how they are able to roll-out these tests, gather data and then revert, often without huge uproar.
Is this significant? No not really. It’s pretty normal for Google to test out new designs for their SERPs. The separating line has been tested recently, but previously between each individual search result. Looks like the user interface designers at Google are searching for a permanent home for this separating line!
It makes sense for Google to move towards a news/social feed format, where additional pages load vertically. They’ve already tested an infinite scroll on mobile. Whilst this was reverted (at least for us in the UK), this new desktop design aligns with the current mobile design with a ‘read more’ button.
We’ll have to wait and see if these tests are successful and are rolled out.