Paid and organic results are now presented in an nearly identical format except for a tiny icon to the top right of each link.
Some observers have even questioned whether Google is blurring the line intentionally in an effort to get more users to click on ads, which is how Google makes the vast majority of its money.
"I would argue there is now no visual distinction between ads and results". Some went as far as describing the new styling as a "dark pattern".
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Cases have also been confirmed South Korea, Japan, Singapore, Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, Thailand and Vietnam. The minister said that person also went to China but that she had little other information about the case.
Now the only thing that sets ads apart from search results is a small black and white "Ad" icon that appears next to them when a user searches for something on the company's site. Sullivan indicated that at least some of the new designs do away with the icons at the center of the recent controversy. "While early tests for desktop were positive, we are always incorporating feedback from our users". Google said "we are experimenting with a change to the current desktop favicons, and will continue to iterate on the design over time". The Design has been well received by users on mobile screens, as it helps people more quickly see where information is coming from and they can see a prominent bolded ad label at the top.
A little history. Google did not always have ads.
But critics are saying the changes have had the opposite effect by making it almost impossible to tell ads apart from organic search results.
In a report from Digiday, market researchers suggested the change, despite being just a week old, was already starting to convince more users to click-through advertisements.
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Despite the apparent effects on helping push advertising, Google claimed that the change was designed to create "harmony" in its layout by reducing the number of color clashes. That soon changed; ads began to appear above as well as alongside the search results.
Wall Street Journal reporter Rolph Winkle noted that the Federal Trade Commission sent letters to Google and other search engines saying in 2013 that the distinction between ads and organic search results had become "less noticeable to consumers".
A recent Brand Verity survey of 1000 United States consumers showed that most people have little idea about how search results are ranked - opinion were split between "relevance", "who pays the most", a combination, and simply "don't know". As such, Google's probably not in violation of any FTC regulations. "Google have chosen to ... make everyone else but themselves pay", said one rival. It spent a lot of time justifying that design change when the UI came to mobile a year ago, but Google barely mentioned the ad changes in passing. It would not be surprising in the least if Google "coincidentally" also enjoyed a higher click-through rate on ads after this change. The favicons have gone, we note, making the ad links stand out a bit more.
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The United States has confirmed at least two cases, with both patients having returned from China with the virus. There have been no cases of human-to-human transmission outside China so far, but it could happen, he believes.