Google Testing Another Change to its SERPS: The Removal of URLs in Organic Search
Google is currently testing a new and fairly significant change to its Search Engines Results Pages (SERPs): it is no longer showing URLs for organic search results on the SERP.
Instead, Google is replacing the URLs from each organic result with the website name or the brand name the website represents.
The change, first reported by Reddit user LopsidedNinja in the bigseo subreddit (an awesome resource for SEO news, btw).
Instead of showing the shortened URL like it did previously, Google only shows the name of the website.
(include zoomed-in screenshots of old way and new way from same search as example used above)
Other users in the above-mentioned bigseo subreddit thread seem to have noticed the change as well, indicating the change is a test that has been rolled out to a small number of users and since gradually increased.
Whether or not this test will result in a more permanent change is yet to be seen.
Google consistently makes small changes and tweaks the search results. And more often than not, the change ends after a short trial period.
While removing URLs has the potential to make users less biased based on where the content is coming from, it also allows phishing sites to become far more prevalent.
You can usually tell whether a website is legit or not by its URL. It would take a lot of work on Google’s end to make sure phishing or spam sites do not end up as top results for high volume keywords.
On the other side, there are still some advantages.
For example, businesses with less appealing URLs could have a better chance on Google. Just because a business can’t afford to purchase the best URL possible for its specific niche, doesn’t mean their product is necessarily worse.
The removal of URLs might make users keener to click on the website that has best Title Tag and Meta Description, but not necessarily the most intriguing URL.
For example, the owner of plants.com may not have the best quality plants or the fastest shipping, but users may believe they do because of the URL.
Google has been slowly moving away from URLs for years, with the most recent change being the introduction of breadcrumbs. Their goal is always to make a cleaner, more accurate, and overall better internet.
Whether or not this change is good or bad for SEO, is obviously yet to be seen by Google and all will be determined through testing.
But we may be on our way to a world without URLs in search.