In possibly the most visually brand-centric enhancement to standard search results since their author image markup which ran for some time back in 2012, Google Search have rearranged the ‘search card’ layout on their mobile search results to include a favicon image atop each search result.

In case you didn’t know where the Favicon (shorthand for ‘favourites icon’) comes from, it’s the tiny 16 x 16 pixel image that you usually see at the left-most part of a given browser tab.

New layout for mobile search cards

While the favicon is one aspect of the change, there are more subtle differences to the arrangement of search cards as well.

Before and after

Additionally to the above, if the web page is of the AMP (Accelerated Mobile Pages) web page format, then you may see an AMP icon after the URL on the first line. This used to appear beneath the headline, or as part of the description.

The appearance of Google text ads are also different to what they have been. The layout will follow a similar structure to the above, however will replace the favicon with a more distinct black ‘Ad’ icon, as well as vary in length and added embellishments, depending on the format of the ad, and the ad extensions displayed.

Why should you care?

Finally, Google are allowing businesses, publishers and all content creators some form of control over the visual appearance of our web pages in search results. We now have the power to optimise our favicon to stand out as much as possible, potentially more so than our competitors, or other competing search results.

Branding is also a highly influential factor in how users navigate and make choices. As former Google executive chairman Eric Schmidt famously stated:

“Brands are the solution, not the problem. Brands are how you sort out the cesspool.”

Google have also said that this change, on top of helping users identify more relevant results, is a move to “add more helpful previews to search results cards”. In their drive to make richer, more diverse search results, Google Search are showing increased willingness to test more radical ideas.

Something we’re sure about is that it will be important for ensuring the realisation of business goals, to stay closely on top of the new results layout.

If you’d like to know more about what the favicon is, and how to change it, here is a handy resource from World Wide Web Consortium.

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