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Analysing Google’s SERP spring clean

You may well have noticed that Google has implemented a redesign of their search engine results pages (SERPs) over the past couple of weeks, with both their entire format and their AdWords setup being affected.

Here’s a look at the changes that have been introduced to the search engine giant’s SERPs, how the industry and public alike reacted and how we can help you adjust to the alterations.

 

What has changed?

  • Everything looks a bit cleaner

Compare Google’s new look to how the search engine’s pages appeared at the beginning of 2014 and you will be able to pick out quite a few amendments.

Links in both paid and organic content are no longer underlined, the title font is a little larger than before — a matter we will get to in more detail a little later — and the source URL has shrunk slightly.

  • Title tag character limit significantly reduced

The days when you had between 65 and 70 characters to play with when writing a title tag are long gone when it comes to Google and title tags.

While there is no new character limit set in stone — Google measures title tags on the number of pixels and not the number of letters — so it is a good idea to stick at between 55 and 60 characters.

This is because the gap of five to ten characters could be enough to prevent an important point you want to make being shown in the title, which could have attracted a lot more potential customers to choose your website.

We understand that it can be very difficult to reduce a title tag, especially if you run a company with a large name and are trying to promote a number of products on the same page.

Fortunately, our very own Senior Developer Mark Probert has created a handy Google SERP Optimisation Tool. Give it a try below and receive a preview of how a title tag and meta description will show up on Google. You will never need to fear the ‘…’ that indicates your content is being truncated again.

  • Google Ads altered across the board

The layout of adverts has changed both on the appearance of the format at the top of a search result and down the right-hand column of a query.

When it comes to the top of the query, an ads block is no longer presented with a coloured background. Instead, a little yellow ‘Ad’ box now appears next to every advert, with this found to the left of the source URL.

The phrase ‘Ads related to [search query]’ has also been retired, which means that AdWords almost look the same as a standard search result — only the Ad box and a horizontal divider set them apart.

Moving to the right-hand column of ads on a SERP, there are fewer changes to spot, though the most significant is that the list begins with a yellow Ads label in place of the old Ads with no coloured background.

 

Is the reaction to Google’s changes good or bad?

Specialists based in departments across the Mediaworks HQ have been keen to share their views on whether they see Google’s SERP spring clean as a breath of fresh air or not.

Our Technical Director Daniel Hoggan pointed out that the changes make it more important than ever for those with websites to understand basic optimisation elements.

He explains: “Given that bolding will limit length, what the user’s search query is will be something that needs to be taken into account. So depending on likely intent for that page (head, mid or long-tail) this will give you an indication of the title length you should be using.”

Daniel added that since Google has changed both the font and the format that title tags are measured, an effective title would now take into account the user and their intent from category-to-category and product page-to-product page instead of just placing a high-ranking keyword.

Meanwhile, our PPC team was keen to highlight how the change on Google’s SERPs could be very beneficial to paid search results in particular.

“For PPC marketers and their clients, the changes to the way Google displays its Ads is a huge positive,” PPC Executive Hannah Mattinson noted.

By dropping the faded yellow background altogether, the search engine giant is striving to increase its own revenue, while improving visibility, exposure and click-through rates for our clients – everyone wins!”

The general public appear to have adjusted to Google’s new look with a positive attitude too. This is after usability testing hub Usertesting.com conducted a usability survey involving 50 participants and found that the majority of those questioned preferred the refreshed layout when it comes to the use of AdWords, the larger font that is underlined and the spring clean as a whole.

 

Do you share these positive vibes about the changes that Google have made to their SERP format? Have you made any changes of your own after spotting the alterations to Google’s SERPs for the first time?  Let us know in the comments below or by continuing the conversation on our social network pages.

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