Last May, Google unveiled a new look for its mobile search listings, including brand icons and more prominent domain listings, which are designed to help provide more clarity around the sites that users are connecting with via search.
Now, Google is expanding this new format to web-based queries as well.
A explained by Google:
"The format puts a site’s brand front and center, helping searchers better understand where information is coming from, more easily scan results and decide what to explore."
As you can see here, in addition to brand icons to the left of the domain listings in each result, the format for Google ads has also been updated, with a bold 'Ad' notifier beside the top paid result.
The change is important to note for digital marketers, as it may provide a new opportunity to better establish your branding via search. But in order to capitalize on such, you need to ensure that your site icon - or 'favicon' - is up to date.
To do this, you first need to check that your favicon adheres to Google's guidelines, then you need to add a link to your website HTML - as explained by Google:
"Add a <link> tag to the header of your home page with the following syntax:
<link rel="shortcut icon" href="/path/to/favicon.ico">"
You can find a more in-depth explanation of the process here - and given the prominence of these new icons in the search display, especially on desktop, where they're larger and stand out even more, it's worth looking into, either by yourself or your tech team.
In itself, the update is not a major, functional change, but definitely, those icons stand out in desktop search queries. And given that around 90% of searches conducted on desktop PCs come via Google, it's worth taking note, and optimizing your listings wherever possible.