Google has this week announced a new look for its search listings, first coming to the mobile app, which will alter the visual presence of paid search ads, and add new branded icons to related search listings.
As you can see here, instead of the green text box 'Ad' listing on the first result, the 'Ad' notifier is simply bolded, which may reduce some clarity around what's a paid listing and what isn't, especially for those unaware of the update.
But the more significant addition is the inclusion of brand icons in the search listings.
As explained by Google:
"With this new design, a website’s branding can be front and center, helping you better understand where the information is coming from and what pages have what you’re looking for."
That's a good thing for your overall marketing efforts, providing another platform to better establish your branding. That may also see changes in search behavior as a result - if there's a brand logo people recognize in the results list, they may be more inclined to click on it, which could, potentially, see the relevance of first results reduced in some cases.
Google says that the new format will help it "add more action buttons and helpful previews to search results cards" in future. Following the demise of its social platform Google+, the company has been exploring new ways to add more business tools and social-like features into its core search results listings, in order to maximize its revenue potential, and fend off rising competition from social apps. This update is another step along that path, providing more personalization and branding options to help companies establish and customize their search presence.
As noted, Google says that the update will first come to the mobile app, which would suggest that the same is also set to be migrated into the desktop version at some stage. Site owners can learn more about how to choose their preferred icon for organic listings here.