Today Google rolled out a new search layout amongst quite a few other changes. These changes have come after months of testing and aim to make Google simpler and more user-friendly than ever.
The first changes people will likely notice are to the homepage. Google gave its logo a face lift, taking away the shading and texturing to make it look simpler and cleaner. They also made the search bar longer and removed the blue outline around the search box. All of these changes were aimed at making the page look even cleaner, a major point of distinction between Google and its competitors.
The search results underwent a few changes as well. Now the layout shows a nicely organized section of maps and images when you search in certain categories (eg. places, such as "San Diego"). They've also removed all underlined hyperlinks from the search results, except for the title. Maybe Bing's advertising campaign about the exorbitant amount of links had something to do with this change?
However, the biggest change today was the introduction of a left hand navigation bar. This dynamic bar changes based upon what you are searching. For instance if you are searching for information on the BP Oil Spill it will serve you options to check News Search or Blog Search. However if you search Manolo Blahniks, the left-hand bar will offer you the Image Search and Shopping Search options. To make things even simpler, the left hand navigation menu will move with you as you go from page to page.
The layout of the left-hand navigation bar is also meant to be easy on the eyes. It somewhat resembles Facebook and includes icons and a drop down menu that adds visibility to some of Google's lesser known features.
If you haven't noticed any of these changes just yet, don't freak out. Google is rolling this out slowly to gauge the success. However all these changes are just the beginning. According to Mashable, Google is always running new experiments and will continuously release those to the public. In a lot of ways, Google is taking a page from Facebook - changing things up, keeping things fresh and therefore staying relevant (aka not Myspace).
Looking at all these changes from a marketing perspective, it seems clear that Google is pretty darn serious about maintaining its status as the number one most visited site on the web - so don't go moving all your PPC dollars to Bing just yet!