A few weeks ago, there were small murmurs in PPC circles about a minute change in the AdWords presentation that may have flown under most people’s radars. The ad labels that accompanied search results at the top of the page that used to be yellow – are now green!

Before April 14, when reports of the color change first began coming in, all the paid results that appeared at the top of the rankings looked like this:

Ads results

Image: https://www.google.com.ph/webhp?sourceid=chrome-instant&ion=1&espv=2&ie=UTF-8#q=criminal+defense+new+hampshire

Here’s what the results for the same set of keywords look like now:

criminal defense result

Image: https://monsterrecords.ca/wp-content/uploads/2016/04/searchenginewatch.comwp-contentuploadssites25201604US-green-ads-e1460639864949-25ac97f9f848b18bb6ddd8c59a9012e2dce7caba.jpg

What does this mean? Probably nothing for most people, but it could be everything for a PPC management company. Anyone who’s spent a number of years in this industry knows that even the smallest change can cause a significant difference in the effectiveness of a campaign. So let’s begin our investigation of this color changing event one clue at a time.

Who’s Seeing Green?

The first people who seemed to notice the change were our fish and chip cousins across the pond, which suggests that’s where everything began.





After that, other territories also started noticing the change with what looked like an outward European ripple.

Here’s Sweden,




And Hungary.

Ads Results - Hungary


Before eventually making its way to us


There are even reports of similar green sightings in Central and South America, though we haven’t seen anyone tweeting about it from those territories yet.

Green is Go, Purple is Maps

The search engine isn’t stopping there, though, as people began seeing purple pins on Google Maps results. The sudden diversity in color palette follows the similarly recent development of Google showing ads in Local Finder. But, that’s a story for another day.

We can follow the screenshots that capture these purple pins to establish a reliable timeline. One of, if not the first to see this change was Roos@PaidInsights.



It looks like the releases of purple and green are separated by just over a week. This is an interesting piece of information that every PPC experts in Denver should take note of, since that purple pin is pointing straight at our city. These color changes – in addition to the introduction of local finder ads – are deliberate moves on Google’s part to achieve something. But, what is it?

Google the Artist (?)

Webmasters have gone through too much in the past few years to trust that Google is just messing around when we all begin seeing small changes like this pop up. There’s always a reason that allowed these changes to snowball into something significant. But, that doesn’t seem to be the case for this particular alteration.

All these changes seem to be nothing more than tests to see which colors have more positive effects on the click rate to paid results – if there’s any effect at all. One floating theory, in regards to the green ad labels at least, is that Google is making it look similar to the URL color, so it wouldn’t look too much like an ad. This is unlikely, though, as it goes against the search engine’s character of being for the user can not the business.

It’s still a mystery whether Google has any goals for these labels beyond aesthetics, and it’s reasonable to expect a few more color changes as testing continues. We’re hoping Google goes all out, and introduces an entire rainbow into the SERPs.

Have you noticed other color changes, or are your results still sporting the original yellow? Send us a screenshot, and we can get a better appreciation of what’s going on in the SERPs on a global scale.

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