Google redesign and page titles

You’ve probably noticed Google implemented a redesign of its search results pages recently.

accountants-search-web

Jon Wiley, the lead designer for Google search, posted in Google+ that:

We’ve increased the size of result titles, removed the underlines, and evened out all the line heights. This improves readability and creates an overall cleaner look. We’ve also brought over our new ad labels from mobile, making the multi-device experience more consistent.

If you look closely you’ll also see a faint grey line beneath the sections of results. In the example above, beneath the ads at the top and below the first three organic search results: maybe the first move towards the card-like look of Google+ and Google Now.

Adwords

In bringing over the new ‘Ad’ labels, Google adwords results no longer have a shaded background, separating them from the organic results, and the little subtitle that used to display at the top of the shaded block – ‘Ads related to [keyword]’ – has also gone.

These factors tend to break down the separation between ads and organic search results – a reflection of Google’s policy of taking into account the quality of the destination landing page as a factor in determining which ads rank highest in the ‘ad auction’ for particular keywords. See more on this in Adwords Essentials.

Shorter page titles

The larger typeface and removal of underlines creates a cleaner and clearer look.for the page titles and the results page as a whole.

However, increasing the font size does mean that long titles (for example, of 70 characters) will no longer fit; they are cut short with a trailing ellipsis – see the example above.

Due to the different widths of letters there is no definitive cut-off point below which you can be certain your title will be displayed in full. However, if you keep your title to 55 characters or less, and not all caps, it will almost certainly be displayed in full. Well, 95.8% likely likely if the analysts I’ve read are correct.

If you want to be more certain how your page title will display in Google search results, there’s a useful tool at moz.com where you can test it out.

The page description, incidentally, gets cut off after roughly 160 characters.

Are cards taking over the web?

Have you noticed how cards are gaining traction as a new web design standard, a response to the need to make content work across the widest range of formats, from desktop through tablet (landscape and portrait) to mobile – and potential new devices such as Google glass.

twitter cards

Benedict Evans pointed to the changing face of Twitter, and the potential it opens up for content marketers, in his post Twitter, canvases and cards:

Then Twitter pivoted … and took control of the interface. The obvious thing that it did with that was to deliver a predictable offer for advertisers. But the more interesting thing to me was that it created a canvas – which is now turning Twitter from a protocol to a platform.

Twitter is turning ‘Twitter cards’ into a platform. You can embed video, or slides, or music – all sorts of things. You can embed a call to action that will harvest the account’s email address. And, increasingly, you can drive acquisition – of Spotify users, or apps, or customers. And thanks to retweets these cards can end up anywhere on Twitter, far beyond the original poster’s network.

What are cards?

Cards give a quick shot of information, a summary, with the ability to link to more content. You can also mimic cards in the physical world, with content on the reverse, turning the card with a click.

Cards can be used to provide an aggregated approach to content, a screen filled with nuggets of information (i.e. cards) assembled by the site according to your previous interactions, very much like Pinterest which provides a different home screen for every user, based upon your previous pins.

This is easily adapted to the mobile screen by using a ‘deck of cards’ structure. As described by Insideintercom:

This [mobile] is driving the web away from many pages of content linked together, towards individual pieces of content aggregated together into one experience.

Google+ cards

Google has also moved in this direction, with a frequent appearance of a right hand panel in Google results and the re-design of Google+.

Cards offer scalability, flexibility and a clean look from desktop to mobile. A way to provide the user fast access to the information she wants, whilst also allowing space for serendipity – for putting content in front of the user that he didn’t know he wanted. Not wholly unlike the kind of experience (that used to be) offered by flipping through the racks at a record store.

Self promotion follows!

Want to know more? Or need a copywriter who knows how to make a modular approach to content work for you? Then do get in contact.