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Google Link Color Testing: Black is the New Blue

Testing out new things, or first step of a complete SERP redesign?

On Monday May 9th 2016, Google has started testing a new color scheme for its results page. The blue title results we are so accustomed to navigate are turning black: a subtle, yet bold move for Google, which comes only months after the rebranding of their logo. Since this change has not affected all users yet, here is what the new results page looks like:

From a design standpoint, the classic rule of thumb states “Less is More”, which is what Google seems to be following with the color change. However, in this case, less color means more (way more!) black: it’s rather difficult to differentiate between page titles, URLs, and descriptions. It’s unclear at this point if Google is simply testing the waters, or if this prefaces a complete SERP (Search Engine Results Page) design overhaul. For now, getting adjusted to this change will take some time.

After just a few minutes of research, it appears the online response to this color change has been overwhelmingly negative. But again, no word from Google has specifically stated the permanency of this change. Google is actually not the first company to be doing some color redesign on its platform: both Facebook and Instagram have been quietly testing black & white versions of their applications. So what does this mean for the tech world? Can the contrast between black and white be influencing the usability or experience of an online platform? And what are the chances that these major companies would be testing a similar color change at the very same time?

Only time will tell if this change in direction is simply a test run, or the end of an iconic SERP look we’ve grown to love for years. Google is leaving us in the dark until further notice (pun intended). But no matter the outcome, the real question will be: how will this affect SEO activities? How can websites make use of the new color (or lack thereof) in creating and maintaining a meaningful impact to attract their target audience?

Make sure to check back on this InterActive Circle blog for updates and new resources as they become available.

1Color Meaning
Google is Testing a Radical Change by Turning All Links Black
Instagram is Testing a New Black and White Design