Have you looked at your site’s mobile search results on Google lately? If not, go look and maybe you might some unexpectedly big changes to the information Google includes about your pages.
Specifically, Google announced that it plans to stop displaying URLs in mobile search results and will in its place display the site name alongside a breadcrumbs representation of the particular page’s URL structure. The changes have already taken place in some US search results and the complete roll out will come gradually. Thanks to Google Webmaster Central blog, here is a handy side-by-side depiction of the changes, with the old search results on the right, and new search results on the left:
So why is Google changing this informative aspect of the search engine experience? Well, according to Google, the idea is “[t]o help mobile searchers understand your website better when we show it in the mobile search results.” I honestly think this will make it more difficult for some users to appreciate the structure of a site that they find on Google, but we’ll have to wait and see.
Now, if like me you’re wondering how Google determines a site name in the first place, the process has everything to do with the structured data you include on your site. You may have come across structured data in terms of SEO, but this development takes it to a new level of importance.
As explained on the Developers site, Google expects you to follow a particular set of markup requirements in order to encode the site name(s) you’d like for Google to use on mobile searches. Follow the technical instructions there, and also keep the following rubric in mind when you decide on your site name in the first place (also care of Google Developers – Include Your Site Name in Search Results):
” Be reasonbly (sic) similar to your domain name
Be a natural name used to refer to the site, such as “Google,” rather than “Google, Inc.”
Be unique to your site—not used by some other site
Not be a misleading description of your site “
What are your thoughts about this change to the mobile search experience Google provides? Is Google going too far by removing reference to the actual URLs of your pages, or is this a true branding opportunity?