Google Split Testing Search Results

Google run thorough split testing on live system before rolling out any changes on the search results, as any wrong assumption or mistake would cost them millions of ad revenue (literally).

For the past few weeks, I have noticed Google split testing on ad box color, current yellow vs. new teal, in their search results.  Upon further inspection when writing this blog post, I also noticed that they are split testing the character count of the search results title and description, on both organic search results (SEO) and search ads.

Google split testing different search result format

The tested version seems to cut off at 62 characters for headline and 82 characters for description, which is quite inline with the announcement in Google Performance Summit back in May 2016 on Extended Text Ads for Google Search Ads (60 characters for headline and 80 characters for description).

Extended Text Ads for all devices in AdWords (source: "Inside AdWords")

It is also hard not to speculate that Google may place some new ad format on the right hand side of the search results on desktop, given that it is so empty now after removal of right-hand-side search ads in February this year and now the truncating of organic search result headlines and descriptions.

From digital marketing agency point of view, there will be a lot of testing required to use the more prominent headlines to optimize the performance of our clients' ads and campaigns.  It is also important to watch how the new format change users' behaviour on the search results.