As Malcolm Coles just posted, and several others have noticed, Google removed the top horizontal menu in their search results pages (SERPs), and also removed the link to log in for around a day. Was this a glitch or was Google testing for a future update?
Now, I like change and especially to see what Google is up to when it experiments, but they can’t really think this would be a change for the better? What are the potential implications of this?
It’s likely to mean people rely much more on mixed results for images and videos for example. But I am personally a fan of being able to flip easily between other search types such as News, Images and Maps. I don’t want to have to trawl through irrelevant types of search results.
Personalised Search Results
When searching, especially when I want to test results for a particular keyword, seeing that I’m logged in in the top right hand corner of the SERPs acts as a reminder that the results I’m seeing may well be peronalised just for me and therefore a less accurate representation of what the average user will see. Removing this log in/out link means that more people will probably forget to log out, Google collects more data from your searches, and presents you with personalised results unbeknownst to you.
Google Denies Users Choice
Ultimately it would force users to use the new drop down “Show options” menu, but this does not offer the same full range of options. Instead it currently only offers Videos, Forums and Reviews. Of course users can hit the ‘back’ button on their browsers and start again as the menu remained on Google’s homepage, but that would have been a pretty bad user experience.
If this change stuck, it would have been a fairly fast transition and I’m not convinced it would have been well thought through. Could this be another knee jerk reaction to Bing’s popularity and moves lately? Bing interestingly has both top and side navigation menus as standard. Choice.