Google Changes SERP Layout

It’s not uncommon for Google to make changes to the search engine results page, with a history of testing new SERP layouts. In 2014 Google removed the underlines in hyperlinks from its search results, leaving colour as the only visual clue as to which text was a link. Similar tests have been observed in the past such as changing the ad marker text (it was yellow, is now currently green).

Search Engine Watch reported in September that they noticed a strange occurrence where all the results were appearing in separate cards. To quote Search Engine Watch:

It seems Google is once again experimenting with a card-based SERP for desktop, where each result is placed in its own separated box like you would normally see on a mobile search.

Although neither test led to a roll-out, there’s clearly a reason why it keeps coming back. It does make for a cleaner SERP, with results feeling neater and better organised. And perhaps Google persists with the test because it would make its desktop and mobile UI consistent.

Maybe in a year’s time we’ll know the winner in the battle of ’more space’ vs. ‘cards’. Or maybe we’ll be staring at something completely different…

Looks like Google is changing it up and testing a new SERP layout by putting everything within a border similar to results triggered by Rank Brain. Take a look at a comparison from a Google result page in 2016 vs. a Google result page in 2017.

Sample Google result page in 2016 2016-03-06 20-02-00

  • testing yellow ads

Sample Google result page in 2017 2017-01-20 01-25-27

  • boxed results


By taking a quick look at SEO Moz’s MozCast tool, we can see that the “weather” has been a bit hot lately.


Hey! This looks ugly. Where is Google going with this?

Google isn’t the best at designing user friendly systems, have you ever tried to use Google plus? There is a reason it’s a grave yard. Our research suggests that the observations made by Search Engine Watch in September have creeped their way back for a January testing period. With every search box looking like a card result, there is potential for decreased clicks for your business.

Google loves carding

This is not the first time Google has tested the carded results page. Whether or not this model sticks will likely be based on how well ads perform, because at the end of the day Google is an advertising agency, and earnings from paid traffic keep them profitable.

We believe that having a strong SEO strategy in 2017 will provide long term results and save marketing dollars on paid traffic. Contact us today to get started on improving your technical SEO. Relying on desktop for organic traffic is no longer a viable strategy. Google is increasing pressure on a mobile forward web. Meeting the minimum requirements for a mobile site can increase loading time. With the added pressure of SERP changes, you might find a dramatic increase in bounce. Small changes like these can bring out the weak points of your title tags. Rewriting and targeting which keywords work effectively requires hands-on webmaster experience to navigate. Welcome to 2017: there is no longer space left for fluffy marketing. It’s time to expect elements of AI in everything we do online.

How do you feel about the new layout? Send your comments to @lioneaters on Twitter.