Google under fire for making search ads look the same as organic listings

Josh Peachey's picture
by Josh Peachey

Google has made another change to how search results are displayed, making paid-for ads look practically the same as organic links.

The new formatting of the redesign, which started being rolled out last week, makes ads and search results only distinguishable by a black and white 'Ad' icon compared to favicons for organic links.

Before 2013, Google used to give its paid-for links a completely different background colour to distinguish them more. 

Digiday says that click-through rates have already increased for some search ads on desktop, and mobile click-through rates for some of its clients increased last year from 17 to 18 per cent after similar changes to Google’s mobile search layout.

Google has said that the new design means that the branding of websites is put front and centre with the new favicons - a change that was introduced on mobile last year. 

The Guardian's UK Technology Editor was quick to criticise the new formatting.

In Q3 of 2019, Google's parent company Alphabet made nearly $34 billion from Google Advertising.