Google decides to 'iterate' on its deceptive favicon search plan

Google still plans to modernize the look and feel of its search results.

Credit: IDG

Google backtracked Friday from its controversial plan to mix “favicons” in with search results, which critics had called a deceptive mix of search results and paid advertising.

Last week, Google began putting small favicons (website icons, such as the small power-button icon that appears in the browser tab when you visit PCWorld.com) next to search results in its desktop search. Critics called the favicons too visually similar to the small “Ad” label that Google attaches to sponsored results at the top of the page, and thus confusing to users.

As of Friday, Google had removed the favicons from general Google search results in its Chrome browser. The favicons remained for news searches, however, as indicated in the image above. Google News search results do not show ads. 

Google said it would continue to tweak the designs in the coming weeks.

“Last week we updated the look of Search on desktop to mirror what’s been on mobile for months. We’ve heard your feedback about the update,” the GoogleSearchLiaison account tweeted. “We always want to make Search better, so we’re going to experiment with new placements for favicons….”

google search favicon Google

An example site with a smiley-face favicon attached to it in a search result.

Google went on to say that it will be testing other layouts with users over the coming weeks, so you may see favicons return to search results, but in different layouts or configurations.

Google went on to release a lengthier statement, claiming that the design had been well received by mobile users. “While early tests for desktop were positive, we are always incorporating feedback from our users,” it said in part. “We are experimenting with a change to the current desktop favicons and will continue to iterate on the design over time.”

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Mark Hachman

Mark Hachman

PC World (US online)
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