November 7, 2012, 12:05 PM

Google redesigns its search engine results pages

The new look for desktop search results moves the toolbar and adds white space.

Lead Photo

Google Inc. has rolled out a new look for search engine results pages on Google.com. Google describes the change as a “design refresh” that provides more white space on search results pages. At this time the new look is available to U.S. consumers searching the web from desktop computers.

The main change consists of Google moving the toolbar that ran vertically on the left side of search engine results pages. That bar now appears horizontally near the top of the page beneath the search box. Initial search results span the entire web; the toolbar lets consumers refine their search results by such parameters as images, location, timeliness, shopping and more.

Google, in a blog post, says the new design provides room to show answers in response to consumers’ searches, and not just links to web sites. The new look, it says, leaves more room to the right side of the page to show results from its Knowledge Graph feature, for example.  Knowledge Graph, a feature Google launched earlier this year, displays on the search engine results pages an encyclopedia-like entry highlighting key information about the topic searched. For example, a consumer search for Thomas Edison returns a photo of the scientist, his birth and death dates, and information about his inventions.  

For retailers and search engine marketers it also, in effect, provides more room for image-laden Google Shopping Product Listing Ads. Product Listing Ads are paid comparison shopping ads that appear in relevant search engine results. They replaced listings that used to appear for free.  A search today for dining room tables, for instance, displays eight results with photos in a box aligned to the right of text-based paid search ads. 

“By moving the utility bar to the top, there is much more room for the new huge ad formats, like Google Shopping ads, which were so huge they barely fit,” says Larry Kim, founder and chief technology officer of WordStream Inc., a search engine marketing services firm, in a blog post. “The ads now appear more prominently, closer to the left side of the page.” Kim also notes that consumers who wish to use the toolbar now have to go to the top of the page to use it, putting them in closer proximity to the paid ad formats than before.

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