Google SERP Tests That Didn’t Make It

Google SERP Tests That Didn’t Make It

20th May 2011

We all know that Google is testing a lot of things all the time. They usually do this by giving a portion of the users a new feature, function or design to look out. Based on the responses (not the tweets, but how people actually click) they figure out what works and what doesn’t.

We always love to look at the new changes Google is testing out. It gives us an insight into where Google is heading. Now most of the things we spot are indeed changes which are actually being made. Many of the tests which are spotted by many make it. But there are also a lot of changes which don’t make it. This weekend I stumbled on a presentation of a Googler which showed some screens of design tests that didn’t make it. What is interesting about looking at tests that didn’t make it? For one thing, it gives us an idea of how Google is thinking. And you still might see some of the test-changes become actual changes in the future, who knows.

Screen 1:

In this first screen we see that the left side bar was made completely blue, which immediately gives a different feeling to the SERP. Another change is the “-” button above the “all results”. It looks like something which enables you to fold the results. Thirdly there is a ‘comment’ icon before one of the results, which looks like a searchwiki-feature.

Screen 2:

In this screen the left sidebar again is in blue, but is less integrated in the one above. We also can see a “facts” result, which I am not sure is an existing feature in the US or not.

Screen 3:

Screen 3 is focussed on local. Here we can see again that blue colors play a big role. The “Local Businesses for” title is highlighted in blue. The map and local seems to be integrated in the SERP Page, somewhere halfway.

Screen 4:

In this screen a few different elements immediately stand out. First the top bar, which has really been pulled apart from the rest of the results, being in a blue bar. The second thing which is noticeable here is the different colored lines before the different categories. Web gets a blue stripe, News red, Shopping green. The shopping results also have some more white space between them than they now, which makes them a bit more classy.

Screen 5:

This test page has two significant changes compared to what Google is doing now. The first smaller one is the selection method on the left which shows the number of results in the sidebar. Second and much more important is the number of organic results. In this test there are only seven, including the images and maps. That would mean a lot less opportunity for ranking.


Now none of these ‘tests’ seem to have made it to the ‘real’ SERPS. But it is something we can look at and learn from. Most of the changes were design-changes, but the biggest commodity between all of them is that Google again tries to focus on local and is trying to make the user as comfortable as possible to give them the results on the SERPS that fits them most and are easy accessible. Don’t be surprised if some of these changes do show up after all.

But I’m also curious, what do you think of the designs? Is there something Google should do after all?


Written By
Bas van den Beld is an award winning Digital Marketing consultant, trainer and speaker. He is the founder of State of Digital and helps companies develop solid marketing strategies.
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