Google continuing to test new icons in search results

By Brodie Clark

April 2, 2019
google testing colourful icons in search results

Late last week, Search Engine Land reported that Google was testing a new search menu with icons for maps, news, shopping and more.

The original screenshot shared by Joe Youngblood displays the following comparison among the current menu and the test version:

I’ve now spotted another test, which shows that Google could be looking to expand the new icon design to areas of search other than the menu.

Note: the test seems to be connected to another feature of search which often appears, showing the search term(s) in inverted commas used along with the SERP feature title.

Also, when clicking on the icons that label the search features, it then takes you to that section of the results. Ex: clicking on the new ‘top stories’ icon takes you to the Google News tab.

I was able to locate four different variations of this test, being attached to Image Results, Video Carousels, Top Story Carousels, and also the Local Results.

The test was however not used in conjunction with the menu test. I have been able to replicate the test Joe saw originally, but not at the same time as what’s described in this article.

Here’s what a comparison of the existing against the test version looks like:

1. Image Results

Comparison of existing image results against a Google test.

For the first example, we can see the image icon used is the same as the search menu test spotted last week. The icon has a light grey border surrounding for further emphasis.

2. Video Carousels

Comparison of existing video results against a Google test.

Similar to the first example, we can see that the video icon used from the original test is appearing here also.

3. Top Story Carousels

Comparison of existing top stories results against a Google test.

The design for the Top Stories Carousel often varies, so the horizontal format on the right is nothing new. The icon from the menu test is however being used here.

4. Local results

Comparison of existing local results against a Google test.

Interestingly, the icon used for the local results is not using the new design. This is just the standard icon used for Google Maps.

Final thoughts

At the end of last year, we saw Google launch a complete design overhaul of some prominent SERP features, which originated from the rollout of a rounded sticky menu.

We are now seeing Google again do another design push, which may further assist users with understanding what different sections of the SERPs mean.

Google frequently tests new versions of their UI, so there’s nothing out of the ordinary going on here. It is however nice to see some colour being added to the SERPs for a change.

Postscript:

For other variations of this same test (mainly the labelling), see the recent documentation published on the Search Engine Roundtable blog.

Update July 14th 2020:

Google has started testing grayscale icons in search results again, appearing for SERP features such as maps, videos, images and top stories.

Update September 19th 2020:

Google has now launched this test on desktop. There are some aspects that aren’t completely consistent, like the Images web search SERP feature going coloured on hover (others remain grayscale) and I’m unable to trigger an icon for the map pack, but basically a full rollout otherwise.

Note: looks like the transition between grayscale/coloured for the Images icon happens because it’s a hyperlink. The others (videos, top stories etc.) don’t act as links.

Recent Posts