You may have noticed while browsing through Google recently that it looks a little different. Some new features were rolled out on January 24th, so let’s see what they were and how these recent Google changes can impact your website traffic and rankings.
Introduction of favicons
The first thing you will probably notice is that there is now a brand favicon next to each search result, here is a screenshot so you can see what I mean:
This design has actually been on mobile search engine results pages for a while now, but this rollout to desktop has caused a bit of a shake-up in the marketing world.
Although it is still very early on, this introduction of favicons has affected the clickthrough rate on organic listings which in turn could lead to a reduced level of traffic arriving at your website.
You may also notice that rather than the URL showing in green text below the title, this is now black and appears next to the favicon. Making it slightly harder to distinguish the URL of the website that you will be clicking on. Essentially, Google is trying to make the organic listings look similar to the paid listings.
Google Ads have now gone black
Google seem to have also replaced the green ‘Ad’ with a black version on the paid ads displayed within search engine results pages. Another change you can see is that the display URL on Google Ads now shows above the headline for the first time. Google have said that this was to allow users to “quickly identify where the information is coming from” following a search.
Take a look at the screenshot above, it’s quite hard to distinguish between the paid ads and the organic listings, particularly if you are scrolling through quickly.
Featured snippets will not repeat on the first page of Google search
Firstly, let me explain what featured snippets are. They are a format which provide a direct answer to the question a searcher has typed into a search engine. Meaning that you don’t have to trawl through several pages of a website to find the right answer, it is shown right there on the search engine results page. They are also sometimes referred to as ‘answer boxes’.
Before the rollout of this new Google interface, some websites could appear on the first page of Google for both this featured snippet, and the organic page which related to the query. However, this is now not possible. If your webpage appears in a featured snippet, it will no longer appear in the organic search results.
What does all this mean?
The main thing to takeaway here is that you need to keep a really close eye on your rankings over the next few weeks. If you see a sudden drop in rankings, this could simply be due to your website being displayed as a featured snippet and therefore not showing twice on the first page of Google.
If you use Moz to track your SEO campaigns, they have been very quick to change the way they list keyword rankings and whether or not the keyword has won a featured snippet. They will now be treating featured snippets as organic results, reducing the impact this will have on your overall rankings.
It is worth keeping a check on your rankings though, as other SEO tracking software may continue to treat the featured snippets separately. Which in essence could mean that your rank is position 51+, but your site appears in the featured snippet (which would be position 1).
What do I need to do?
The introduction of favicons is likely to bring about changes in website traffic, but at the moment I wouldn’t worry about it too much. Keep an eye on your clickthrough rates (particularly if you are running Google Ads), but remember your searchers are still getting used to the new format as much as you are!