Have you noticed anything different with Google's SERPs (search engine results  pages)? The underlined links are gone. Learn what else is new on our blog.

3 Ways to Optimize Your Content for Google’s Redesigned Search Results Page (SERPs)

Fri Mar 28, 2014

If you’ve recently used Google to search for something, you might have noticed the search results pages (SERPs) look a little different. It might be hard to put your finger on it at first because the changes are so subtle, but because everything Google does is big, these tweaks could make a world of difference for content marketers.

Here are the 3 things you can’t miss about Google’s new SERP design, and what they mean for your content.

1. Improved typography and no more underlined links

Google Screenshot

If it looks like the search results look cleaner and better organized, it’s thanks in part to improved typography, added whitespace, and the absence of underlined links. Typography is an underrated discipline within graphic design, and it’s all about readability and providing maximum clarity and comprehension of the information before you. Google is trying to make it even easier for searchers to understand and evaluate search results, to get to the best information faster.

2. Ads are tagged, but not highlighted

Google Ads Screenshot

When you search for a highly competitive keyword or phrase, the first few links you see are often not the best organic results, but what were once dubbed “Sponsored Links,” which were also enclosed in their own highlighted box. So as to keep the SERPs clean aesthetic while still making it easy for you to distinguish between organic and paid results, Google now marks ad results with a bright yellow tag that simply says “Ad.”

Costa Rica Google Screenshot

3. Larger page titles now display fewer characters

BBQ Google Screenshot

The accepted rule around writing meta titles has been to keep it at 70 characters or fewer in order for your full title to show in search results. Google has upended this with its SERP design update. To begin with, SEO experts will point out that 70 characters was an approximate limit, and whether your full title showed up was a matter of pixels. The now-larger headlines demand more space for fewer characters, and now you need to keep it under 60 to ensure your carefully crafted title doesn’t dissolve into an ellipsis (…).

What do these new Google SERP changes mean for content marketers?

Although we can’t anticipate the effects algorithm changes will have on what search results Google presents, how those results are presented does give us some clues about how to optimize content to look good among those results.

Adding emphasis to readability of results while reducing page title real estate demands two things: brevity and relevance. Google’s competitive advantage is still about getting you the right results right away. Content marketers need to publish information that is relevant and helpful to their target audience, and get to the point quickly so as not to waste anyone’s time. That’s not a completely new idea from Google, but the recent updates say it louder and clearer than ever before.

Have you noticed any other changes to Google’s SERPs? Did we miss anything? Tell us in the comments.

Karo Kilfeather, content marketing manager at Percussion Software
Karo Kilfeather
Content Marketing Manager | Percussion Software

Karo was born in Poland, and learned to speak English by watching "Saved by the Bell" reruns during her first summer in the U.S., which has left her unable to go through life without occasionally breaking the fourth wall. As Percussion's content marketing manager, she oversees and creates content that drives website traffic, engages followers, and helps fill the marketing and sales funnel. She writes about content management, content marketing, SEO, social media and web design, and how to make it all less complicated.