[Rumor] Is Google changing how it displays search results?

So I was doing some searching on Google. Typically when I run a Google search, I get results displayed like so:

Aside from the lack of ads (yes, I block ads now) there is nothing special about the search results page: It is the standard search results page I have been seeing since… forever. A few minutes ago, however, I was shown the following:

Notice any difference? The changes are so very subtle (the search results are more “soft”, visually speaking, than before) that I had to double-check to make sure my eyes/mind weren’t playing tricks on me.

At first I thought maybe Firefox was bugging out on me. So I closed it, reopened it, and ran a search again. Nope, the new style was still there. So then I cleared my Firefox history/cache/etc., closed it, reopened it, and ran another search. This time the results were back to normal (i.e. as shown in the first screenshot above); but after running a few more searches, the results reverted to the new look (i.e. the second screenshot shown above).

At this point I figured I should check to see if the same thing was happening with other browsers. I tested it on Internet Explorer (9), Google Chrome (11), and Opera (11.10); all of these three browsers displayed the search results in the normal/old way:

So, then, this begs the question: Is Google changing how it displays search results? Or did I just come across a freak accident? Is anyone else seeing this? Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh…

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  • DrTzap

    “the underlings beneath each search result have disappeared”… I haven’t seen that at all… No, I tell a lie… I have seen it but it always changes to ‘normal’ when the page finishes loading – whenever Igor the thinkpad slows down (too many firefox tabs, Avast! updating, Lenovo ThinkVantage Toolbox being piggish as usual and hogging resources…) or Clearwire being slow (because ConCrap/Sprint divert too much bandwidth to ComCast/Sprint brand customers in their endrun around FCC spectrum ownership limits and/or oversell the portion they leave for their Clearwire brand customers) then Google will display in pale, fuzzy text (sans underlining or cached/translate links) while the results load, but upon completion the colors darken to normal and the links are underlined and any links for cached copies, related results, and translation if applicable appear. And, just like Google Instant, this only occurs with some browsers (M$IE and FireFox show it with some cosmetic differences, Opera just blanks the page till it fully loads (and doesn’t support Google Instant), and perversely Chromium browsers (Google Chrome and SR Ware Iron) don’t support Google Instant or this intermediate state between a blank page and full, ready to click, results. I suspect what may be going on is tweekage to Google Instant and at some point it will start appearing with Opera and the Chromium engine (and thus Chrome, Iron and any other browsers based on Chromium).

  • Injeun

    Google testing new search results pages?

    When it comes to change, sometimes it’s hard to believe in. And sometimes it’s just hard to believe your eyes.

    Some people have begun to notice that their Google search pages look different from those they had come to know, love, and take for granted.

    Suddenly, the pages seem cleaner. Suddenly, there’s more white space. And suddenly the colors are greener and the underlinings beneath each search result have disappeared.

    Naturally, this has led to troubling words from troubled minds.

    Some have called the potential new look “ugly.” Yes, ugly.

    “What the heck was wrong with the old design?


  • Welcome back Ashraf..nice to see you posting again!

    Yeah..I’m getting it in Firefox, too..and for what it’s worth, I’m using an old version of the fox..3.6.17..so I guess it’s not something to do with the new version of this browser and more to do with Google tinkering with their own settings.

    I have to agree with what’s been said above, about it being a bit to “faded” on the eyes, even though I do like the shades used. Strange though, for them to do something like this, as in the past they tended to just put the changes up out there and be done with it..none of this “now you see it, now you don’t” business that appears to be taking place here.

    Guess time will tell if this is to be a a permanent thing or not.

    Regards to everyone..


  • Jyo

    I saw this too, but it went back to normal after clearing my cache. It all just seems too fuzzy. Definitely not a good change.

  • Welcome back Ashraf! You have been missed! I hope you can stay but if you still need time we understand.

    Yes I’ve seen this myself. Not very functional compared to the older version. Worse it seems to disable some other functions as well. My anti-virus flags the links with a status of untested, tested safe, problems or unsafe and I can click for details. That’s disabled in the new version which isn’t a step up for me.

    I can’t say this is a problem with the new browser though. As much as I dearly want to update to Firefox 4 there are certain add-ons I won’t do without and they aren’t compatible yet, though the second they are. Since I’m still using Firefox 3.6.13 it can’t be a function of the newer browser. Thanks for the cache suggestion cassius. I’ll try that next time.

  • ddthesm

    It’s happening for me again and “no sir, I don’t like it!” (random Ren & Stimpy reference)

  • DrTzap

    OK, four browsers, Google Updater, VLC media player, and a buggy GiveAwayOftheDay slowed Igor (the old thinkpad R51 here at Tzap Labs) down enough to get the error message, “Google Instant is off due to low connection speed” so there’s the name of the feature: *Google Instant* Under optimal conditions you get results even before you finish typing the search query and get a preview thumbnail when you hover over the result links that helps complements the link description

  • Dr Tzap

    Nope not happening here >;-> And it hasn’t been happening for 6+ months now, and you won’t see it if you type in a search term and DO NOT hit enter or click a search button >;> Take another look at the ‘new’ format and you see “press enter to search” under the search box – it seems to only work in FireFox and to some extent M$IE (sans lighter text) and only when the net gods allow… I forget what Google calls it but when there is net lag I sometimes see a “xxxx not available” message for this feature and the preview thumbnails of the search results. I’m not really surprised it hasn’t been noticed before as it takes a pause of xx seconds AND a connection without net lag AND the right browser to occur…

  • ddthesm

    Glad I read this, I noticed this too yesterday! Firefox here also. I hope that’s not a new layout because it didn’t seem quite as functional or legible to me (too light of font colors).

  • ZappedSparky

    It looks as if the page is slightly out of focus. That’s not going to be easy on the eyes.

  • Unicorn02

    I am not sure, but it might be related to the 2D-acceleration the newer generation of browsers are doing. 2D-Acceleration cannot use cleartype for technical reasons, so the fonts are rendered in another antialiased form.
    If you run accross this strange display again (lighter fonts), make a screenshot and magnify it and have a look if still cleartype is being used… More on this topic: http://goo.gl/VVir9

  • Len

    Last night, I noticed the same thing you did in Firefox. I thought something was wrong with my computer. Glad I read this.

  • cassius

    I’ve had “unusual” displays on a lot of sites when using Firefox. I believe that it is related to some idiosyncrasy related to FireFox’s cache. Clear the cache and reload the page: The “unusual” display is replaced by the “usual” one.

  • Tanmay

    I am not getting any different layout in Google search, but Martin Brinkmann at gHacks.net has posted about this. See http://www.ghacks.net/2011/05/07/google-search-new-layout-style/

  • Kerry

    Great to have you back! Looks the same to me. Beats Bing thats for sure. searched on a friends new pc for pcdecrapifier and bing could not find it but google went right to the page listing. If it ain’t broke don’t fix it.

  • meldasue

    I noticed that the ‘cached’ version link is missing in the ‘new’ search results. I’m getting normal results from Google, myself.

  • throkr


    I tested several times on Firefox 32 bits and on IE 64 bits : no changements at all !


  • David


    I have noticed this on IE 9 (64-bit version), haven’t checked the 32-bit version.
    I did the same thing and checked it right away in Google Chrome.


  • Tortuga

    Hey Ash :D

    »» I’m w Emrys!! Always happy to see u back!!!

    Just checked, I still have the “old” display.
    But good thing you explained the difference, as I went back & forth a few times b4 seeing it …

    On the other hand, just noticed that on the right column, under “More” & above “Show search tools”, you have 2 entries (one of which you erased).
    I dont have that, never saw it b4. Is it new?
    And what “Change Location” means?? I’m puzzled …
    Can you tell what the other entry does or what it is for?

    Again, glad to see you are feeling better. Always a pleasure to see you arnd.
    I miss your silly humour :D


  • Jimmy

    Hi Ashraf
    I use NoScript but allow Google; I did the search seven times and shows up the same old way, perhaps you did come across a freak accident

  • Emrys

    It is a great day to have you back. I’m sure many others will post the same. I’ve hoped and prayed for your safe return to we lesser geeks. Locutis has done well, but I miss you. Be well and know my best wishes are for you and yours….