New design for Google Universal Search?

Thu 8 January 2009 21:29, Bas van den Beld

New design for Google Universal Search?

The Spanish website OJOBuscador yesterday seemed to have picked what seems to be a new design for Google Universal. They had to go to Google Korea for it. There they performed a search for "Zen buddhist temple". What showed up was the resultpage you see below.


What strikes is the positioning of the universal results. The videos and pictures are placed to the right of the organic results. That's right, on the same position the ads are now placed.The ads are moved down.

Is this a Google test for a new lay out? Or is it something else? The positioning of the ads is surprising. It's hard to imagine that Google would lower the ads to a position which is not directly in sight of the searchers. Maybe very 'Zen-like' but not very commercial...

  • Comments (19)
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Comments (19)


  • I think this must be a test or a hoax.

    But if we assume this will be the new universal search layout, than it is interesting.

    This keeps Google organic text search results as clean as they once were. But on the other hand I can't imagine Google placing Universal Search results above the ads.

    Do 8 jan 2009, 21:51

  • Really interesting, it is well known that Google is doing live tests with these kind of setups.. They probably choose the Korean market to test this feature because ad-spending is lower over there.

    When i view from a searchers point of view, i really like this setup. Its clean, and definately much more organized.

    But i cant see this particular setup work properly for the US / European market..

    Do 8 jan 2009, 21:51

  • Google doesnt display PPC in korea (and china) as it seems. The part qualified in the picture as ads is in fact from the blog vertical if i remember well from some research earlier today.

    Do 8 jan 2009, 22:08

  • Also note that google china colorsets&style match those of baidu.

    Do 8 jan 2009, 22:11

  • Ah Martijn, thanks, that could be the explanation. Couldn't imagine Google to lower ads like that

    Do 8 jan 2009, 22:12

  • @martijn You seem to be right.. Just checked a few other words, and i can't imagine flickr to do some ad-spending on Google ;-)

    Do 8 jan 2009, 22:19

  • I noticed as well that specific queries (for instance with 'video') make the universal search results go to the right.

    But they also show up in between the regular text results.

    Do you have a link to that research?

    Do 8 jan 2009, 22:32

  • @Eduard » true, sometimes they have video on the right, images in the center, etc.

    By the way, i must say i really like the font used for the results on the Korean version of Google. Somehow it reads for more easy..

    Do 8 jan 2009, 22:41

  • Not yet, because I combined that research with some other nifty stuff. I'll come back to that later ;) stay tuned.

    Do 8 jan 2009, 22:42

  • When searching for SEO it looks like there's 1 payed ad there on top..

    Seems like google news is been showed right on top above the pics where it is listed below with the sample on top of the page here ..


    Do 8 jan 2009, 22:56

  • ah yes you are right, it shows the box with the sponsored link text. so there is some ppc. just not many

    Do 8 jan 2009, 23:07

  • @dave, Martijn,

    yeah, we seem to get some tailor-made results, because we search in English.. i searched for 스폰서 링크, which means "video" (yeah, i copied it from the blue bar ;-)) and i got a sponsored result above the organic results, plus one on the side bar. So they seem to place them above all the rest.

    Do 8 jan 2009, 23:13

  • Sorry, 스폰서 링크 stands for adwords, not video ;-)

    Do 8 jan 2009, 23:14

  • Looks a Hoax to me, def not stylish for Google

    Do 8 jan 2009, 23:41

  • We don't know if Google will apply this layout to every western country. Google China looks like Baidu? Why? Because it works best that way. If you take a look at the front page of Google Korea or Google China , they use a totally different approach than in EU/US countries. Why shouldn't this be the case in the SERPS? making the worlds information 'universally accessible' does not imply that we are all universally the same, so different layouts may as well apply.

    Do 8 jan 2009, 23:47

  • Korea has always been a test country for SEs (not just Google, see for example). Like Martijn said, the SERP lay-out is usually just different in Asian countries.

    Vr 9 jan 2009, 09:32

  • Seeing as nearly everything Google does is to make money for Google, I think we can rule out them moving the ad spots down. I would more believe the ads at the top then the video/image results below them

    Vr 9 jan 2009, 10:30

  • This most likely has to do with the internationalization of the interface. It's the same reason why the highlights are red on Google China.

    I'd put my money on guessing that putting things in between text is not done in Korean.

    Vr 9 jan 2009, 11:36

  • It looks a lot like to me. I always liked Ask for their experiments with the interface.

    And why not place the ads somewhere else? I think a lot of people have 'banner blindness' for the right side of the results already so it might increase CTR's.

    Vr 9 jan 2009, 11:59


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