Google Search on desktop abandons URL, displays site favicon instead

The new results page is easier on the eyes at the cost of valuable information

Chrome on Windows 10

Google is testing changes to search results on desktop that ditch the green URL in favour of a favicon.

The redesign is similar to one the search giant introduced to its search results page on mobile in May.

Previously, when you searched for something on Google, it would display the name of the web page in blue, followed by the URL in green. Other information, like a brief description or snippet of content, links to relevant pages and more.

Now, results display the site’s favicon first — the little icons that appear in your browser’s tabs or bookmarks. The website’s name resides beside the favicon in black text, followed by the ‘path.’ It’s kind of like a URL, but instead of something like ‘ > wiki > New_York_City,’ you get ‘Wikipedia > wiki > New_York_City.’

Finally, the little ‘arrow’ you can click to display additional options like ‘Cached’ or ‘Similar’ appears at the end of this top row.

Google Search change

Left: Old Google Search results page. Right: New Google Search results page.

Below that is the site name as before. However, there’s no URL in green beneath. Instead, the result dives right into the descriptions and other items.

According to 9to5Google, Google says the flipped layout helps “anchor each result, so [users] can more easily scan the page of results and decide what to explore next.”

The redesign is more important on mobile, where Google displays a variety of content, including AMP pages and podcasts, along with regular sites.

While these factors aren’t as present on desktop search, the favicons do make it easier to see which sites each result connects to at a glance. Plus, the whole interface looks cleaner with black and blue instead of blue and green.

However, Google’s determination to kill the URL makes this redesign concerning. Now that results don’t display the full URL, it could be easier for malicious actors to spoof sites and trick users.

The change to Google Search has not fully rolled out on desktops. Google appears to be A/B testing the new look, so don’t expect to see it everywhere just yet.

Image: 9to5Google