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Google Testing Black Links in SERPs

     
2:03 pm on May 9, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I can't get this to appear no matter what I tried, however, according to reports, Google is testing Black links, instead of Blue links.

[telegraph.co.uk...]
2:40 pm on May 9, 2016 (gmt 0)

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We have it on one PC here but not on the others. All on the same IP. I also tweeted about a bright blue colour change the other day but no-one else seemed to have noticed. Seems like they are testing click-through rates.
2:57 pm on May 9, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Sometimes these tests will never show to some users, so you were likely seeing something that a small subset in differing and unconnected sectors might have seen.

This one seems to be a wider reach, and is a significant change, unlike the tests of differing shades of blue of the past.

The images look so different it's almost as if the site went into mono.
3:22 pm on May 9, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Blue is what users expect when presented with a link. So if you give them black will they click it less?
3:25 pm on May 9, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Blue will stay for Adwords links. For 'organic' it will be black / text-like.
3:30 pm on May 9, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Blue will stay for Adwords links. For 'organic' it will be black / text-like.

@Selen, interesting. You have seen it like that or is this a speculation?
3:31 pm on May 9, 2016 (gmt 0)

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It is a speculation, but if I worked for Google I would definitely suggest that.
3:35 pm on May 9, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Last week we also saw an increase in the white space between each SERP entry, so you had to scroll down further. Just on two days though.
3:38 pm on May 9, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Blue will stay for Adwords links. For 'organic' it will be black / text-like.


This is incorrect - the ads are black also. I'm also seeing tests for darker blue links. But every link is the same colour.
7:07 pm on May 9, 2016 (gmt 0)

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On my browsers (IE, Opera, Firefox, Vivaldi) you have options to over-ride what is specified on web page source code, and choose your own link colors instead.
7:53 pm on May 9, 2016 (gmt 0)

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When I look at serp results via WMT (i.e. I click on the link in WMT Search Analytics for a particular Query), that is when I see the black links. Try that.
9:08 pm on May 9, 2016 (gmt 0)

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you have options to over-ride what is specified on web page source code, and choose your own link colors instead

Sure, but how many people outside WebmasterWorld do that? Certainly not the people who don't know any way to reach a web page other than by entering its URL into Google Search.

:: trying not to think about how ghastly some of my pages would look if they used someone else's preferred link color ::

They wouldn't really have the nerve to make everything black except AdWords, making it look as if those are the only clickable links ... would they?
9:18 pm on May 9, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Worth noting that a few weeks ago we had a discussion in Supporters Google about a test involving changing the Google ad markers from orange to green [webmasterworld.com...] (thread requires Supporters access)

The OP's speculation in the Supporters discussion was that changing the markers to green would make it less obvious that the ads were ads. But if the intention were simply to increase ad clicks, I suggested, green would be less likely to attract the eye, another factor in how many clicks ads receive. Considerations about the colors of rating stars, in both ads and organic, might also eventually enter into it, as they're also yellow orange and attract the eye.

My guess is that black is one more variable in what might become a fairly complex set of tests involving many variables over time.

Personally, I think that black and green combined, as in the serps shown in the Register, is one of the more depressing color combinations imaginable.
9:56 pm on May 9, 2016 (gmt 0)

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If this should make it past testing and into the regular SERPs...

Would anyone consider it to be a part of or proof of a Google War on the Organic SERPs?
12:12 am on May 10, 2016 (gmt 0)

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I seen it on and off today the black links...

I guess google are bored or something, I think they can style their links however they like its the content of the serps themselves that are important. People will just learn to click the black listings in time if they don't want ads. I often build sites with black links so I don't really see the problem. If they want to use black and green so what? Maybe they should go old style and have a black background with green text.
2:55 am on May 10, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Standards and customs evolve. A few years ago, people got confused if links weren't underlined, for example. Nowadays, underlined links are probably the exception, not the rule.

I still use blue links (though without underlining these days), but that's because I figure it's better to be safe than sorry. If I had the kind of traffic that Google does, I might test alternative approaches instead of simply relying on the tried and true.
3:12 am on May 10, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Sure, but how many people outside WebmasterWorld do that?

(re: browser overrides for font/color)

I suspect more than one might believe. Most who do this are visually impaired, but I've helped a few others set it up simply because they couldn't READ what was on the screen. (Too small, low contrast, conflicting contrast, color blindness, etc.) Disclaimer: I R 1, 2.
11:07 am on May 10, 2016 (gmt 0)

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So the SERPs links will look like a normal text - not great for usability.

Have you ever watched user trying to "discover" what the link is on a website that uses blue headings combined with blue links that are not underlined? On desktop they keep moving mouse waiting for it to turn into hand. On the phone they keep tapping everywhere, not being sure whether it is theri tap that is not working or the heading is not actually a link.
3:30 pm on May 10, 2016 (gmt 0)

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This may have been a suggestion by the AI?
6:27 pm on May 10, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Black links surrounded by black text is a camouflage technique and not in a good way. The key to a good style or theme where links are concerned is contrast (at least visually) and it has pretty much always been that way. Is color the only way to create contrast? Hardly. Underlines have served that very fundamental purpose for many years and can even work with black links in black text. What's really un-clever is a link with no underlining, no bolding and in the same font, size and color as the text. I'm not sure why people do it but I've seen it on any number of occasions. There has to be a language to all of this and I don't believe that trying to change the visual language of the Internet is a brilliant idea. May make someone some money but messing with the foundations of Cyberspace should be done with care and not because you're a greedy corporate giant out to squeeze a few more cents out of every page view.

...end rant.
12:35 am on May 12, 2016 (gmt 0)

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Black links surrounded by black text is a camouflage technique and not in a good way.

I don't see any evidence of "camouflage" in The Telegraph's examples. We aren't talking about links that are embedded in text, we're discussing Google SERPs, which present results in a standardized, structured format (page title, URL, snippet). What's more, in the examples, the URLs are clearly displayed in green.

It's hard to imagine that many people are going to be confused by this and think "None of these listings are search results." In any case, the test layout is just that: a test.
 

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