Google is changing the way it formats search results on mobile, the company announced today. Paid results now have a larger “Sponsored” tag instead of the simple “Advertising” tag they had before, and each website’s name now appears at the top of every search result. The “size and shape” of each website’s favicons are also updated to make them more visible. The new search results format is now rolling out on mobile, and Google says it plans to test a “similar experience” for desktop searches soon.
In its blog post, the company explains that the new “Sponsored” tag is being introduced to ensure that “ads are clearly labeled” with a tag that is “prominent and clear for various types of paid content.” Meanwhile, displaying site names and favicons more prominently in search results is intended to make it easier to “identify at a glance the website associated with each result”.
Google’s changes to the formatting of search results have occasionally been criticized for making it more difficult to determine where paid results end and organic results begin.
The timeline in this tweet from 2019 (through TechCrunch) shows how the search giant has changed the formatting of sponsored results on desktop over time. It has gradually moved away from formatting paid results with a different background color to simply displaying them with a small “ad” tag on desktop.
At the time of writing, favicons have still not been widely rolled out for desktop search results.
Google’s paid results are still harder to discern than when the search giant used different colored backgrounds, but switching from the two-letter “ad” tag to the much larger “sponsored” tag on mobile feels like a step in the right direction. .