Recently, users of Google’s search engine have noticed a change in the design of the ad label on the results page. The label formerly had a green background with white text – now it has a white background with green text and a matching green outline.
Use of the green background has been short-lived; it was first introduced less than a year ago. Previously, ad labels had an orange-yellow background. When the green label first appeared, Google cited the need to make the colours on its results page more streamlined. This alteration was especially geared towards mobile devices.
According to Google, tests have indicated that the latest change will not have an impact on users’ ability to distinguish ads from other listings. They claim it will make search results easier to read, and describe the new label as ‘more legible’ than the previous one.
But many users are unconvinced, believing the change will make ads stand out less than before. It has been suggested that Google is simply looking to increase revenue by misleading searchers into clicking on irrelevant ads. Some critics point out that large businesses like Google tend only to make changes if profits will be increased as a result.
Some years ago, Google experimented with using different shades of blue for its ad links, and found that certain ones increased the likelihood that users would click on the links. They claimed that this change earned them an extra $200 million over the course of a year. Could the new ad label be designed to do something similar?
Not according to a Google spokesperson, who says that testing ‘potential improvements’ to their search results page is a routine matter. The company seems adamant that the only motivation behind the changes is to improve the appearance and user-friendliness of the site. Whether their profits will be affected as a result remains to be seen.
Google began rolling out the new version of the label in the UK at the end of January. The transition should soon be soon complete worldwide.