By John Gruber
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Danny Sullivan — who for years wrote about search engines independently, but is now Google’s “Search Liaison”:
Last year, our search results on mobile gained a new look. That’s now rolling out to desktop results this week, presenting site domain names and brand icons prominently, along with a bolded “Ad” label for ads. Here’s a mockup.
To say that this design blurs the line between real search results and sponsored items is an understatement. They’ve been inching toward this for a decade, but I’d say this marks the line where they’ve gone too far. Yes, they still have an “Ad” label next to sponsored results, in the spot where legit results now show a small site logo, but to paraphrase a wise man, what’s wrong about this design isn’t the think of it but the feel of it. I haven’t seen anyone react well to it, and most think the problem is that it makes ads look more like search results.
That’s not quite right though. Craig Mod put his finger on it precisely:
There’s something strange about the recent design change to google search results, favicons and extra header text: they all look like ads, which is perhaps the point?
That’s it. It’s not that ads look like legit results but that results look like ads too. It’s genius, but perverse. Google is losing the soul of its crown jewel.
★ Thursday, 23 January 2020