Google tests hiding URLs from search results

Posted on October 9, 2019

 

Search giant Google appears to be currently testing the removal of URLs from the results pages of its search engine, instead displaying only the name of the websites appearing in the results.

The test was initially spotted by a Reddit user earlier this week, who shared a screenshot of a search for ‘mortgages’. The image shows that the top results came from Money Supermarket, Halifax and Barclays. Each of these is listed by just the name of the company instead of the URL.

Below is a screenshot of the usual way Google displays its search results, which shows the URLs.

If you compare this to the screenshot from Reddit, you will notice that although the URL is no longer there, you will see the company name, and the page name. For example ‘MoneySuperMarket > mortgages’, ‘Halifax > uk’ and ‘Barclays > uk > mortgages > mortgage calculator’. While the actual URL is hidden, you can see the pathway needed to find the content. This is known as a breadcrumb and more information can be seen about this here. This may be more visually appealing, but is it more useful?

Google has been in the process of moving away from displaying the full URL within the search results pages since it introduced breadcrumbs a couple of months ago. As a result of this, Google now seems to be testing what the impact may be of removing URLs completely and not showing the domain of the site ranking for that particular search query.

The Reddit post has had a fair bit of interaction, with those contributing raising concerns about being able to verify how legitimate the website being shown on the page is, as the domain is not there. How would users be able to distinguish between a genuine site and a phishing site?

Other users do not believe that this will have a significant effect on SEO and may even alter the way people perceive top level domains, such as the authority of a .com over a .co.uk, .org or .net.

What this could have an impact on, though, is a site’s click-through rate. Google is now showing more information than ever in the search results to make the user experience much easier and faster. This will be one more approach that Google is trying and will only be permanently introduced should it be deemed a successful test with no negative impact on websites.

Alan Littler

Account Executive at Engage Web
Drawing from a broad pool of experience that ranges from university studies in English Language to his work as a medical receptionist in a busy GP practice, Alan fits right at home as Engage Web’s Account Executive.

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