When Google first broke onto the scene in 1998, one of the things that really set them apart was their clean, simple look. Compared to other search engines of the day, cluttered by ads and options, the plain white page with a straightforward list of potential results was a metaphorical breath of fresh air.

In the 16 years since then, they’ve tested a wide range of potential changes, but they’ve wisely always done their best not to stray too far from the look and feel that distinguished them right from the start.

Google’s tests are a constant and ongoing part of their model, and they’re probably testing hundreds of things at any given moment.  With 3.5 billion searches a day though, actually catching one of their tests in the wild is a somewhat rare, and sometimes exciting, experience.

New Search Layout Test

Well, it looks like we’ve managed to catch one.  As you can see from the image below, this one is experimenting with a very light grey background, and  putting each result in a white, slightly drop-shadowed box to highlight individual results, including ads. Ads still have the required little green ad marker. (Remember when it used to be yellow?) Below is a straight result without a knowledge graph on the side.

Test Layout Without Knowledge Graph

In searches with the knowledge graph, it looks exactly the same, and the knowledge graph itself has its own frame, as seen below.

Test Layout With Knowledge Graph

Personally, I actually find the test layout quite appealing. Everything being pretty equal, I don’t think it presents any issues with potential click through rates, and I think it does a good job of making it visually clear where each result is separated from the next.

I assume it will do the same for image and video results in search.  In fact, having seen it, I rather hope that the test will be successful and we’ll see it roll out across the board. (Although, let’s be honest, the chances are usually pretty slim.)

Other Tests

As a final note, I guess this is an appropriate place for this little gem I happened across a couple of weeks ago.  I had the presence of mind to screen-shot it, but haven’t got around to talking about it yet.

How Satified Are You With These Results?

Never saw it before or since, but was quite interested when it opened up alongside the results of whatever search I was making at the time.

Don’t know if it was test, or (probably more likely) a random survey. But like I said, it’s always interesting when you spot something new on the search results page.