Google are trying out a new design for search results that adds a significantly large banner ad to their listings. Ars Technica have reported on the update and Google claim that this design appears in about 5 percent of total search queries but it will probably be rolled out globally over the next few months.
Why I don’t mind this change
The age of remembering a domain name and typing it into the address bar on your browser are fading fast.
Back in the day (old man voice) I used to pride myself on my strong memory for domain names. But lately I have given up on bothering and find myself lazily tapping in broad mis-spelled terms for sites that I guarantee I’ll know the URL of. Terms such as “bbc news”, or “hacker news”, or “twitter”, or even “kimb jones” are words I’ll happily throw at the browser address or search box rather than type http://www.etc…
The example given in the Ars Technica article shows a result for US low-cost airline Southwest Airlines and you can clearly see in the example that the specific wording in the search box is “southwest airlines”.
In this example the user is clearly looking for this specific website. Sure, there is a small possibility that they could be looking for news on the Southwest Airlines (which you can see results for just below the main results in the example screenshot) but chances are they just didn’t know the domain name and wanted to reach their site.
Google is just responding to this trend and most likely has the data to back this up.
And as long as these banners stay clear of less specific search terms like “southwest airlines safety record” (top result is a Wikipedia article) then I’m fine with it.