Google announced yesterday on their official Webmasters Blog that there would be changes in how websites will appear in search results. Google is moving away from showcasing your exact URL and will be putting the importance on page titles. Some changes have already been made, and Google will be officially rolling out the update by next week.

What is Google Changing?

Google is making 2 big changes:

  • Website title featured instead of your domain name
  • Breadcrumbs will appear in search results

Google has already experimented with creating breadcrumb links in mobile search results, however they are now beginning to phase out the old method of displaying a URL in favor of this. The site name change will be a US only feature for now, and the breadcrumbs update will be rolling out worldwide.

Here is an example of the updated results, courtesy of Yoast SEO:

Google's Updated URL Appearance

Left search results represent current URL and breadcrumb appearance, the right image shows Google’s updated version.

The biggest change you can see here is that in the right image, you will no longer see your site’s domain name – just the site title. Google is making your domain name less prominent, so sites that have not set up accurate page titles and breadcrumb structure will hurt.

Why is Google changing this?

Google has already announced that they will be penalizing sites that are not mobile friendly starting April 21st, 2015. Google is putting mobile usability first – deciphering a long URL on your phone screen does not make for a good experience. These changes will give you a better reflection of a website at a glance, and help you understand site structure where it is generally more difficult to navigate on mobile devices.

How does this affect SEO?

Having a URL that matches your site name and keywords has always been a boost for SEO, and there is no official word yet from Google on if that will change.

It is also important to note that you can no longer see if a website is hosting on a secured (https://) or unsecured (http://) connection. Google gives a SEO boost to secure sites, so it is unknown how Google may deal with showcasing the difference in the future.

How can I prepare?

Google announced support for new structured content from schema.org in search results:

Make sure that you follow the use of this structured data on your web pages for the best website appearance in search, otherwise you risk Google incorrectly generating this for you.

If the title of your websites’s homepage is ‘home’, change that immediately.

The title of your homepage should match your site title, and also provide other details that a user may find helpful. With the absence of URLs you will risk Google showcasing the name of your site as ‘Home’ or ‘Shop’, effectively killing another element of your branding.

If you have a WordPress site, the popular Yoast SEO plugin announced that coming Monday they will issue an update that will help you with these changes. The plugin will generate the schema for your site’s title and breadcrumbs.

As Google is generally mysterious with their search updates, we will learn more details in the coming weeks of how to best optimize your site for SEO and showcase it on mobile.