Google Search Chief Amit Singhal Announces New Ad Tweaks
March 13, 2014

Google Search Chief Amit Singhal Announces New Ad Tweaks

Enid Burns for - Your Universe Online

Google is a company that is forever in beta and is always optimizing its appearance to give the best results. Those optimized results are both for the user in the form of search results, but also in ads by displaying ads that will perform best for the advertiser.

In an onstage interview on Tuesday with Search Engine Land founding editor and search guru Danny Sullivan at the Search Marketing Expo conference in San Jose, Google search ranking chief Amit Singhal discussed some of the experimental changes Google has made to perform better for all parties.

One of the biggest changes that few will notice is the end of banner ads shown over search results. As a company always in beta, banner ads only appeared in an experimental basis to about 5 percent of results and only about 30 advertisers took part since October of last year, Forbes reports.

Google users did not receive the banner ads happily. "Well, calm down. Those big banners are now officially dead," wrote Forbes contributor Robert Hof.

“We are always testing things,” Singhal said in the on-stage interview, Hof quoted. “We have to experiment with things and let the data tell you what to do. Like on the big banner ad people saw, we looked at the results and decided not to do it. There’s a team of PhDs gathering every piece of data we can about our experiments and if it doesn’t benefit users, we don’t do it.”

Banner ads aren't the only change.

"Google's search results may look different right now, thanks to a very large 'bucket' test currently underway, which has dramatically changed the look-and-feel of Google's list of blue links," wrote TechCrunch's Sarah Perez.

One of the big changes is that Google's organic search result links are no longer underlined. There is also less demarcation on ads and search links. Ads are not highlighted with a yellow background any longer, but they are marked with a small yellow label stating "Ad."

"Google often runs experiments like this to determine whether or not a change is either financially viable, benefits its user base, or, in the best case, both. Often, these tests fly under the radar, but in the case of something significant as Google's search results pages themselves, it's hard not to notice when they change," Perez wrote.

The changes were actually announced last fall for mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets. Google made the changes known in a blog post last September.

While the changes continue to be rolled out, they are reaching more users, Search Engine Land reports. "Google is showing this search result design to more and more people. Twitter, Facebook, the forums and my email are filled with complaints and questions about this new Google design," wrote Barry Schwartz of Search Engine Land.

Around the same time banner ads began to run over search results on Google, the search engine also changed its formula to show search ads with maps and phone numbers higher than results that lacked that information, according to Forbes.