Yes, that new list of search results is still Google's. You didn't get lost in cyberspace and land on a Microsoft Bing page, some part of Yahoo! Search, or InterActiveCorp's Ask.com by mistake.
The new organization of Google's results does look very much like what its rivals have been doing for years, though. Instead of a plain link list with advertising on the side and extras at the top of the page, Google now guides us onward with a conspicuous list of new options on the left.
Those new links tap into services like Universal Search, the search options box, and Google Squared to enrich the searching experience. Some of these features have labored in obscurity since their launch, most notably Google Squared, which came across as a poor man's Wolfram Alpha when it was presented. And Wolfram Alpha ain't exactly a household name, either. It's good to see Google giving new jobs to some seemingly failed projects, and anything that helps consumers find what they're searching for should help Big G extend its already sizable lead in online search traffic.
Don't think for a second that Google does this sort of thing lightly. In the fourth quarter of 2007, Google changed how you click on its ads, so that accidental clicks on the ad box background no longer took you to the advertiser's target page. It seems trivial, but made a measurable difference by lowering the number of ad clicks -- and raising the amount advertisers are willing to pay for these slightly better-targeted ad spots. A complete overhaul of the search results comes after prolonged testing and user feedback, and Google wouldn't do it unless its instruments pointed to some kind of measurable improvement.
About two months' worth of running search with this model will factor into the July earnings report, so stay tuned for insight into how all the moving parts were choreographed. I think we'll see stickier traffic when users get funneled around from one results page to another, more refined. In a perfect world, that would also mean higher prices in the neverending AdWords auction, but I'll settle for just the extra traffic for now.
Will Google's new design make a difference to the company's top and bottom lines -- and is it good or bad? You've seen what I have to say and now the comments box below is waiting for your input.
Fool contributor Anders Bylund owns shares in Google, but he holds no other position in any of the companies discussed here. Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value choice. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers selection. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call position on Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletters today, free for 30 days. You can check out Anders' holdings and a concise bio if you like, and The Motley Fool is investors writing for investors.