Have you noticed the recent change in Google search results? The shift is subtle and some people might not even be seeing it yet. Instead of changing the algorithm, they have changed how the search results look. How have they changed? The two major differences is an increase in the width of the results column and decreased the amount of white space in between the individual search results.
In the previous version, the width of the search results column was 500 pixels. Now, it is around 600 pixels. The whitespace between each result has lost five pixels, going from sixty-five to sixty.
This change has impacted not just the organic search results, but the local packs and the AdWords listings. The image results that often show up to the right of the search column are now slightly smaller, in conjunction with the reduced space between listings. Specifically, it puts more links and text above the fold in the search results.
What does this mean for most listings? While this might not revolutionize how you optimize your page, as SEOs, it is important to keep in mind that if they stick with this subtle but important change in design, you are going to see more search listings on a page before you need to scroll. This is because of there being less whitespace on the page and because some listings that might have needed more than one line previously will now only need a single line.
Some organic search listings are likely to appear higher on the page. Why should you care? Most people will care because there was a little bit of outrage over the fact that Google upped the number of AdWords listings at the top of search results. Instead of the usual three, there will now be four. This means that one result that used to be on the first page of Google was pushed to the second page. This change in design could bring that result and possible other second-page results onto the first page.
Another significant change is that titles can now be longer. In the past, you had only about sixty characters before the title was drowned by ellipses. Now, you might have as many as seventy characters. It also means that you might have as many as twenty more characters to use in your descriptions, which is great news for people who have been struggling to edit their descriptions down so that they, too, are not eaten by ellipses.
Featured snippets have also been changed. This snippet is now 646 pixels wide, which makes it a full 46 pixels wider than other search results and probably the largest thing on the page. Instead of increasing the amount of text that appears in the snippet, Google has also reduced the height of the snippet. It is wider, but it ends up taking up less vertical space on the page, again making way for more organic search results.
The local packs and maps will be the same width as the featured snippets (646 pixels). Whether this means there will be more room for titles and descriptions has yet to be determined. Google’s knowledge panel has not been affected at all.
Many searchers have noticed the change over the last couple of weeks. It seems that Google is testing out the new design, to see if it is functioning properly and if it is better or worse for search engine optimization.