Google said today that it is altering the way it presents search results on mobile devices. Paid results now have a bigger “Sponsored” tag rather than the plain “Ad” tag they had before, and the name of each website is now mentioned at the top of each search result. The “size and form” of each website’s favicons are also being modified to improve visibility. The new search results style is currently available for mobile searches, and Google says it will test a “similar experience” for desktop searches “soon.”
The new “Sponsored” tag, according to the company’s blog post, is being implemented to guarantee that “ads are properly recognized” with a tag that is “prominent and obvious across various forms of sponsored content.” Meanwhile, increasing the prominence of site names and favicons in search results is intended to make it simpler to “identify the website that’s connected with each result at a glance.”
Google’s improvements to search result layout have been criticized for making it more difficult to distinguish between sponsored and organic results.
The backlash was at its peak in 2020, when Google introduced a new design for desktop search results that included favicons with organic results. The issue was that these little symbols were almost the same size as the “Ad” tag on sponsored results, making it impossible to distinguish between the two at a glance. Following a public uproar, the business reversed its decision and said that it will “experiment with various positions for favicons.”
As of this writing, favicons for desktop search results had not yet been extensively implemented.
Google’s sponsored results are still more difficult to differentiate than when the search giant utilized various colored backgrounds, but on mobile, going from the two-letter “Ad” tag to the much bigger “Sponsored” tag seems like a step in the right direction.