Google makes ads safer and more user-friendly
One of the main features of Google, and most search engines, is advertising. It is the reason for the online giant’s massive revenue, and most people are used to seeing the yellow ‘ad’ logo next to the first few results each time they Google anything. However, that could well be changing in the near future.
Approximately five per cent of users have been noticing something different from their Google experience. Rather than the yellow symbol, some eagle-eyed searchers have seen a green one popping up next to the pay-per-click (PPC) advertisements in their results. This has sparked a lot of speculation, but the situation seems to be getting clearer.
At first it seemed like the green ads were just appearing in the UK, then some users from Germany, Sweden and the US began tweeting claiming to have seen the same thing. Eventually, a Google spokesperson told Searchengineland that this was a “small test”, adding that the company is consistently trying to improve the way it labels ads.
So why might the green ads be appearing across the search engine’s results? There are several theories, but the prevalent one is that Google wants PPC ads to appear more natural, as the green colour blends in with the display URLs that Google naturally shows. This might increase the success of PPC ads, as users might be more willing to click on them if they are not such obvious advertisements.
However, this is not the only ad change Google has implemented recently. The search engine giant also announced it was attempting to crack down on deceptive “social engineering” ads.
The company defines this as ads that either “pretend to act, or look and feel, like a trusted entity – like your own device or browser, or the website itself”, or “try to trick you into doing something you’d only do for a trusted entity – like sharing a password or calling tech support”.
These ads are typically fraudulent, designed to steal users’ personal details or get them to download malware, so it is understandable that Google would want to protect users from this. However, it means that webmasters will need to make sure their sites are as safe as possible to avoid being penalised by the search engine.
Google has said that Google Safe Browsing “may warn users when they visit the site” if it is flagged up as containing social engineering content. This is going to hurt sites with poor security or little control over their ads, so this is something that could have significant consequences for some organisations.