Google’s New Search Layout

Google Search LayoutThe new Google search layout users began seeing a couple weeks ago on a limited basis has now gone live to all users.

Google’s new layout, which changes the font and removes underlines from links, as well as displays the AdWords ads at the top differently, has definitely been getting poor reviews as it rolled out to everybody.

The headlines are larger the description text seems to be slightly lighter and they have adjusted the fonts with the wider typeface.

For AdWords ads, gone is the light yellow in the background that we have long associated as being advertising space for many years now. The new style doesn’t have any shaded background, instead it has a tiny yellow “Ad” marker next to the green URL. There is also an underline separating the ads from the organic search results.

Beyond the cosmetic change, the new search layout is affecting SEO in a pretty pronounced way. Titles that were optimized to the maximum 70 allowable characters for SEO purposes will now find the same headlines truncated in Google’s new results, giving everyone about 59-60 characters to work with. This means you might have a lot of work ahead of you trying to rework titles so they don’t appear poorly truncated in the search results, which could impact click-throughs to your site.

The first time many user saw the changes, many users thought they actually had their search hijacked or were falling victim to Google spoofing, because the search results looked completely different. And the reviews definitely aren’t good across the board, judging from all the comments by very upset searchers, something that actually made the switch to another search engine strictly because of the new look.

To me, it looks like a throwback to how search engine results looked 10 to 15 years ago, such as on Webcrawler or Hotbot, not something that has been refreshed for 2014. And I do agree with many people who say the new font makes it much harder to read and scan when on a desktop.

Google’s logic behind the new change was that they make the changes for mobile and tablets, and they carry out over several the design changes to desktop users. Google said they feel this creates improved readability and a much cleaner look. And they had an end goal of creating a consistent user experience across multiple devices (desktop, mobile tablet):

Towards the end of last year we launched some pretty big design improvements for Search on mobile and tablet devices (mobile first! :-). Today we’ve carried over several of those changes to the desktop experience.

We’ve increased the size of result titles, removed the underlines, and evened out all the line heights. This improves readability and creates an overall cleaner look. We’ve also brought over our new ad labels from mobile, making the multi-device experience more consistent.

Improving consistency in design across platforms makes it easier for people to use Google Search across devices and it makes it easier for us to develop and ship improvements across the board.

Will we see any changes reverted back? Hard to say, but Google doesn’t too often revert back on their changes once they’ve jumped in and made them.

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Google’s Matt Cutts: We Don’t Use Twitter Or Facebook Social Signals To Rank Pages

Google’s head of search spam, Matt Cutts, released a video today answering the question, “are Facebook and Twitter signals part of the ranking algorithm?” The short answer was no.

Matt Cutt'sMatt said that Google does not give any special treatment to Facebook or Twitter pages. They are in fact, currently, treated like any other page, according to Matt Cutts.

Matt then answered if Google does special crawling or indexing for these sites, such as indexing the number of likes or tweets a specific page has. Matt said Google does not do that right now. Why?

They have at one point and they were blocked. I believe Matt was referring to Google’s real time search deal expiring with Twitter. Matt explained that they put a lot of engineering time into it and then they were blocked and that work and effort was no longer useful. So for Google to put more engineering time into this and then be blocked again, it just doesn’t pay.

Another reason, Google is worried about crawling identity information at one point and then that information changes but Google doesn’t see the update until much later. Having outdated information can be harmful to some people. Continue reading

Matt Cutts: Don’t Stitch Copied Content from Multiple Sites

While many marketers and site owners understand the importance of quality, original content in their marketing plans, there are still those who are testing the boundaries of what that actually means. In a recent Google Webmaster Help video, Matt Cutts talked about the line between spam content and original content, once again.

The question was: Can you copy small portions of content from multiple websites and combine it to create one new web page, and compete in Google with that?

Matt Cutts - Stiching Content

“I fear you may be heading for heartbreak,” Cutts replied in the video. He added that if this is something you’re considering, you should really be asking yourself why you’re doing it in the first place. For example, are you trying to automate?

Cutts began explaining the practice in question by talking about Yahoo’s distaste for it in days past. Yahoo referred to this tactic as “stitching” and “they really considered that spam,” said Cutts. Continue reading