Google Testing Site Fav Icons in Search Results?

Jan 25, 2009 • 2:33 am | comments (6) by twitter Google+ | Filed Under Google Search Engine
 

Brian Ussery posted screen captures of Google possibly adding favorite icons on the left hand side of the display URL in the search results. He posted a screen capture at Google Blogoscoped Forums and emailed me a few.

Here is a screen shot of a site command, which is the only way he was able to see the fav icons, for Matt Cutts' site.

favicon-google-sites.png

Now, we are not sure if he has some Firefox extension that is making this happen or if it is something Google is testing. Brian is confident he doesn't have an extension on Firefox that would cause this. It also only shows when he does a site:www.domain.com command.

I heard some rumors about this a week or so ago, but passed on it, because I thought it was an extension. So, two reports, within a week - might imply it is a Google test. I cannot personally confirm this.

The images are hosted on Google. For example, if you look at google.com/s2/favicons?domain=seroundtable.com, you will see the favorite icon for this site. But this is used primarily for Google Profile icons. So maybe Google is now using this for search results? I am not sure.

Forum discussion at Google Blogoscoped Forums.

Update: This seems real, John from Google said in a Google Webmaster Help Thread:

We do a ton of tests every year, so I wouldn't be surprised to accidentally stumble across something like this :-).

That said, I'd be curious to hear of other changes in the search results pages that you guys would like to see. I don't really have anything to do with that, but it's always neat to see what kind of ideas you all would have. Do you think favicons make sense in search results? Do they help you to recognize a site that you like to go to?

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Comments:

tuf

01/25/2009 12:56 pm

Hmmm... I can't see favicon for every website i try: http://www.google.com/s2/favicons?domain=example.com Maybe it's related to google directory.

Brian Ussery

01/25/2009 07:42 pm

Thanks for the post Barry, still trying to find an answer for this issue other than Google testing... If anyone can debunk as something else, provide explanation, confirmation and/or verification, please do!

rob

01/26/2009 09:55 am

You can get this behaviour in the Firefox addon CustomizeGoogle: http://www.customizegoogle.com/add-favicons-to-google-search-results.html

Brian Ussery

01/26/2009 05:37 pm

Thanks rob, that is similar but I think JohnMu has confirmed this as a test... http://www.google.com/support/forum/p/Webmasters/thread?tid=706394d9310db020&hl=en

Tim Dineen

01/26/2009 05:51 pm

Customize-Google (and/or another FF plugin) was my first thought too. I've been using it for a while and like what it adds to a serp. Allows the eyes to scan faster, especially if I know one or two sites that I trust to give me the answer I'm looking for. If Google adds it themselves, I hope it's optional. But I wouldn't mind it personally.

Michael VanDeMar

01/27/2009 12:53 am

@Brian, John said that "we do alot of tests, that wouldn't surprise me". That's a far, far cry from "Yes that is one of our tests". I would hardly call what John said a confirmation.

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