The search marketing community has been abuzz with reports of Google’s experimental search results, but none may be more unexpected than one that takes the search bar away. We recently conducted at query* and noticed that the results page didn’t have the standard search bar – and the URL address bar at the top was taking its place.
First authorship images, then video rich snippets and now the search bar? This seems to be an isolated experience because other queries delivered normal results, but there were a couple of interesting observations from this experiment.
1. No functionality loss – An experienced Googler knows he can type another query into the URL bar and would intuitively do so if the search bar is absent. Most of us already substitute the address bar for the search bar when looking for information quickly.
2. More space above the fold – Without the search bar taking up space at the top of the screen, there is more room for paid ads and organic content.
3. Secured sites are already sitting pretty – This sample search shows an HTTPS site as the No. 1 result for the query, but it doesn’t look like the rest of the sites are encrypted.
Whether this is an ongoing experiment or a limited study, it’s interesting to see that Google is removing visual elements across the board in its efforts to create a cleaner results page (and reassuring that it’s not just targeting SEOs’ rich snippets for web content).
What other changes have you seen Google make recently?