Google Testing A Much Cleaner Looking SERP

UPDATE: I thought I remembered seeing this somewhere before last night – and in fact Barry from Search Engine Land had talked about the lack-of-left-sidebar briefly back in June. Although there a some differences between the June design and the one I see now (it’s still showing up).

Just wanted to share a few quick screencaps of a new layout Google is testing. The left sidebar is missing, and all of its options are now horizontally just above the results and just below the search box.

My first impression? I like it. I tried running a number of different types of queries – informational, ecommerce, local etc. To me, I feel an improvement across the board towards some needed de-cluttering.

Well – have a quick look at the screencaps! Not sure if they’re just doing some testing, or planning on rolling this out to everyone soon.

Make sure you get to the bottom, for one that is pretty different than anything I’ve seen in the SERPs so far…


Closer look at the new horizontal menu – the red line underneath shows which section you’re in;


Here’s a news view;


An image view;


A closer look at when you click “search tools” option;


Didn’t seem to work for shopping;


One thing I found really interesting was the absence of ads on highly local searches, like this;


Let’s have a look at a few knowledge graph results – note that the box its self resizes with the browser window;


And one other – note that what (as I recall anyway) used to be a broken display, which was all song names in band results, has been fixed. It sits inside a table with scroll bars;


Here’s what you see by clicking the “more” button;


One of the most interesting changes – a popup to select date ranges;


That’s all I got! Anyone else seen / seeing this? Do you like the layout?

About Dan Shure

Hi! I'm Dan Shure. I write all of the posts and host all of the podcast episodes you'll find on the Evolving SEO blog. Say hello on Twitter @dan_shure!


  • October 19, 2012 Reply


    I really this new look of google. Pretty much sure they are testing it & would like to have it roll out very soon. One good thing they done by shifting the left side bar to below search & now the result page looks clean & flawless.

    Thanks for checking & posting.

    • November 27, 2012 Reply


      The idiot/s responsible for this should be FIRED!

      You don’t take something like the sidebar and just make it disappear. If it’s so wonderful, then can you search me an image 5760px x 1080px please.
      Oh wait, what’s that, YOU CAN’T!

      Oh wait, you think you can but you had to make an extra click to find out you STILL CAN’T!

      I’m switching to Yahoo. I’ll only come back to google when the left sidebar is reinstated and the clowns that did this apologise and/or are FIRED!

      Not happy google.

  • October 19, 2012 Reply


    @Dan Shure

    Wow! It looks very clean organic results! Great spot out!

    Hopefully this will be giving clear results for users without any additional Sponsor ads!

  • October 19, 2012 Reply

    Collin Davis

    Personally I love this new layout. The left sidebar wasn’t visually appealing plus this new SERP has filters which read from left to right which is exactly how humans read.

    Just wanted to ask a question Dan. Is knowledge graph a tieup between Google and Wikipedia? Because the top result in the knowledge graph that I have at least seen till now are pointing to wiki pages.

    • October 19, 2012 Reply

      Dan Shure


      For the knowledge graph, Google gets its data from a variety of sources, but yes, Wiki being perhaps the largest. Check out too. I’m still shocked at how little people are talking about that.

      There’s also a vid walk through I did just explaining some of the basics of Entity Search.

      Thanks for checking it out 🙂

  • October 19, 2012 Reply


    I’m getting it too and I really don’t like it. About 60% of the results page is now whitespace, and for no reason. I liked having all the search filters laid out along the left so I didn’t have to dig into multiple menus — better usability. In addition, it looks redundant having a “Web, Images, Maps, News” bar under the search bar while there’s already a “Web, Images, Maps, Play …” bar along the top of the screen. Really silly.

    • October 19, 2012 Reply

      Dan Shure

      Yep I’d agree with you on the redundancy, that part of it did feel a bit odd to me as well!

  • October 19, 2012 Reply


    Another dislike vote here. Now every time I want to narrow my search, it takes two click instead of one. I want the old design back.

  • October 19, 2012 Reply


    Might be okay if the “Search Tools” button actually worked BUT IT’S USELESS – brings up nothing.

    I used the tools ALL THE TIME – especially date filter. Am super frustrated – it took me a while to figure this all out this morning, to troubleshoot and post to google discussions – so annoying!

    • October 19, 2012 Reply

      Dan Shure

      Amanda… sorry to hear of your frustration with it. On certain screens the “search tools” didn’t work for me either. Let’s hope Google is just getting some of the bugs worked out.

  • October 19, 2012 Reply

    Anthony Pensabene

    I like the user-friendly UX. I recently was doing some toying around with operators, realizing how useful it was for SEO, when I was like “eureka” – this should be pretty obvious.. it is a “search engine,” so searching for all that it has to offer should be more obvious? Maybe these modifications are tests to make more people, especially outside of those who notice most (us), more likely to use Google in more robust manners.

    Good eye, Shurelock

    • October 19, 2012 Reply

      Dan Shure

      Certainly plausible! Trying to get everyday folk using some more of the features is possible.

  • October 19, 2012 Reply

    Sergio Redondo

    Hi Dan,

    Curious news from Google. It seems there is a sort of convergence between web and mobile interface. It’s obviuos that Google acts ‘responsive’ about users O_o
    I like it too. However, about Knowledge Graph, Google must be more accurate with the information provided. I’ve found some bugs.
    Thanks for the post.

    • October 19, 2012 Reply

      Dan Shure

      Yes, I could analyze the knowledge graph stuff all day, love it. I think you’re right that they have some bugs. I forget who it was, but there was a really prominent actor (like super A list) who doesn’t appear in the graph anywhere. Thanks for chiming in!

  • October 20, 2012 Reply

    magazyn smak

    so how do you search for 2MB, 4MB ant other large images? well’, you don’t. Please bring back the old layout of the image search page. I’m a photo editor and searching 4MB+ images takes 8 hours of my day at work. Right now I need to click 3x more to get certain results. It’s not ergonomic at all! Fortunately everything works fine in Firefox, but I’m worried that you’ll soon change it permanently in all browsers 🙁 Please don’t make me switch to Bing or other search engine!

  • November 6, 2012 Reply


    I am miserable. It is impossible to get specific images.
    Bring back the old left search bar!!!

    One minute it was there and not it is gone!
    If it ain’t broke… don’t fix it!!!

    • November 13, 2012 Reply


      AGREED! Seriously, I see this problem with multiple sites and programs. Changes that are made just for the sake of change. Like construction workers, you need to justify your job or lose it.

      This new layout is stupid and every website in the world seems to be remodeling themselves to please the plague of iPad and smartphone users, while stepping on the toes of home PC users.

      No, this is not part of the “people who are just used to the previous layout and will get used to the new one” factor.
      This is what companies usually say to brush aside the votes of dislike. But as usual, the change will come regardless of what people like, unless there is a big enough uproar, like that which caused the owner of Netflix to make a formal apology to the public.

      If it ain’t broke, DON’T FIX IT!

  • November 6, 2012 Reply


    Holy crap you actually like this? Alright, here’s a challenge, go search for an image and filter the results to find a precise size. Go ahead, I dare you. Oh that’s right, you can’t do that anymore. There is nothing, NOTHING that is an improvement in this redesign. If they stick with it, they’ll be loowing a lot of people to Bing.

  • November 6, 2012 Reply

    I hate it

    This is bullshit. Put it back!!

  • November 7, 2012 Reply

    Hillary MacBain

    Very nice walk-through of the new search experience!

    I quite enjoy the new SERP layout. As everyone has mentioned, it was a little confusing at first, especially figuring out how to refine a search. As a whole, we have to remember that the Google SERP has remained largely unchanged (in terms of layout) for about a decade now. Anything new after that amount of time is going to feel clunky and unnatural at first.

    Personally, I enjoy having the same search experience between phone, tablet, and computer that this update allows. There are of course still a couple bugs to work out, but I’m happy to see Google keeping the search experience fresh!

  • November 10, 2012 Reply


    If you use search tools regularly, the new UI is completely unusable. I am stunned Google would fuck things up this badly.

  • November 16, 2012 Reply


    Agree really dislike new look and two click to refine search/sort. And as another pointed out most have wide screens and that is where screen real estate is! Please don’t go the way of MS and Ribbons and Start menus

  • November 20, 2012 Reply


    clicking so many times to check the news and video tabs is too frustrating. the search for a new search engine begins! I would be okay with this change if they would just get rid of the ‘more’ option and leave the access to news and video and translate only one click away.

  • November 21, 2012 Reply


    Another big dislike here….I frequently want to do my search for UK, not the entire world. Even though I use Google UK I am now getting my search results for the entire web, and with the ‘left bar’ removal so the option for ‘search uk only’ has also gone. If Google have done this to please the phone users, then they have surely had a knee-jerk reaction as most business people use lap-tops and desk tops during their working day. The image search is now a big pain as others have stated. Can there not be an option to which interface we want to use? It wasn’t broken so why fix (more like break it) it?

    • November 26, 2012 Reply


      Totally agree, I seem to be wasting so much time reading half way through an article only to realise that it is from the USA and totally irrelavent to the information I need. Please give us our options back, never mind the phone web viewers who should have better things to do with their lives !

  • November 22, 2012 Reply


    There is no useful information there at all. Honestly, I will drop Google as my primary search engine if there is no option to change it. I wont to left sidebar back!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  • November 22, 2012 Reply


    Nearly every search I make I need to filter by time range. This change means 3 clicks instead of 1. That is really quite significant and is making my life worse. And this isn’t just about the UX. This is about Google making it harder to filter results and so giving the original search results a higher value by placing more control over the user. Is there really no option to use the old layout?

  • November 22, 2012 Reply



  • November 22, 2012 Reply


    WTF…. They removed the verbatim option!!!! WHAT THE FUCK?!

  • November 23, 2012 Reply


    I like or dislike the new layout
    BUT I miss my ‘Pages from Australia’ link

    I don’t mind change but make it selectable

  • November 23, 2012 Reply

    Professor Mc Flufflepants

    It now takes three clicks to set a search setting instead of one click, they’re going backwards in ease of use. At the very least they should have an option to turn the old side bar on/off.

    • November 24, 2012 Reply

      Dan Shure

      An option would be nice. They had me testing the new compose design in Gmail… didn’t like it too much but at least I could switch back to the old design.

  • November 26, 2012 Reply


    Fine if you’re defaulting to global searching but I live in NZ and it’s a ruddy nuisance to have to go to search tools / location / New Zealand every time I want to find a local supplier. Keywords don’t do the job equally well unfortunately.

    Plus I wasted a few hours searching and virus checking to find out why this was happening so on a communication level, Google is acting like Facebook which is truly disappointing.

  • November 27, 2012 Reply


    I hate the missing side bar. I want to search NZ sites only and now you cant. Fire the twit who changed it!

  • November 27, 2012 Reply


    This is pythetic.

    So first google fucks with our lives by making Youtube and Google the same user which is STILL pissing people off.

    Now they remove the sidebar, then if you search for wtf happened to the sidebar, you have to sign up/in/whatever to ‘their’ site in the top page results. It’s BS.

    i wouldn’t even mind so much if features were still there but just at the top, but How The Fuck is image size *exact size NOW missing???????? WTF GOOGLE? Why remove that? Oh, I suppose it’s easier to remove ‘specific’ result searching criteria and limit users, just like what happened on youtube, right. An extra click just to get to ‘advanced search’????? WTF?????

    What benefit to anyone at all was there in removing that sidebar? None. Unless you’re trying to go backwards like MS by making people click a whole bunch more just go get to default features that millions have come to love.

    I agree with ^Luke
    FIRE THE ASSHOLE WHO REMOVED IT! It’s in your best interest as a company.
    Right now I’m changing to Yahoo and if any of you actually feel as strongly as I do about it, well you’ll change too, at least till the sidebar comes back.

    Not happy Google. not happy at all.

  • November 28, 2012 Reply


    I think the changes were nice. I like it. Anyway, if whatever Google wants we need to accept it and adapt to it.

    • November 29, 2012 Reply


      You must be a mac/apple user.

      That or you don’t mind conforming to a redunant version of google.

      The sidebar was for people that actually knew what they were doing within the realms of the internet. Not tablet users who aren’t ‘code/net savvy’

      Anyone can agree it looks nice, but it’s now missing a lot of features.

      What I still fail to understand, if google did this for tablet users with smaller screen space, then surely they could code their page so when it detects a display bigger than say, 1000px wide it puts the sidebar there. Anything smaller, it’s gone. However, for those that are heavy internet users, even on tablets, give me the option of putting the sidebar back there permanently.

      I don’t get why people are making stuff more redundant these days, what’s the appeal of being a genius then going backwards to retardation?

  • December 26, 2012 Reply


    The cleaner the look the harder to find anything. Is there any designers out there that have any idea on how the human brain works.
    Programmers should never be software designers. That is like asking a bricklayer to build a house without a plan.
    Ask the user what they want then get the code crunchers to write it. programmers in general have no idea.

  • January 12, 2013 Reply

    Jo Lewis

    Bring back the UK only option – I’ve been thinking there was something wrong with my computer for ages now and thought I’d Google tonight to see if anyone else had the same problem. If it aint broke, dont fix it!!!

  • March 19, 2013 Reply


    What happened to the option to click a button to restrict results to the country you are in?!

    I am fed up with getting results to local searches that are on the other side of the world.

  • June 14, 2013 Reply


    I hope they keep the left side bar as it is very useful. It seems like with Google’s latest designs they have been going for less.

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