New Google results layout tries to make ads less conspicuous

Google is testing out yet another new layout design featuring a few significant changes to the search results. The new layout was first spotted by Dan Barker and seemed heavily widespread in Europe, though many others have since been reporting seeing it, including in the U.S. One of the biggest changes is the removal of underlines from all the links, both paid and organic results.

Google is testing some changes to the way it displays search results, including a tweak to how it presents paid links that could throw off unsuspecting users. Paid links in Google’s search results are marked today with a yellow shaded background. Under the experimental layout, which is being widely tested with users, a small yellow button that says “Ad” appears in front of paid links instead. For some users, the new labeling may suffice to denote what’s an ad and what’s not. But those not paying close attention might find themselves directed to a promotional site without asking for it. “For users who avoided ads before, it will be harder for them to tell the difference,” said Mike Mothner, CEO of Wpromote, an online marketing agency that manages companies’ SEO campaigns.

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