Google has been caught testing a significant user interface change to their search result pages. They are experimenting with hiding the URL for each search result, which would take the URL out of the equation. However, could this have a negative impact? For example, if I search for “Microsoft”, how would I know which of the results is the official Microsoft website if I don’t see microsoft.com in the URL?
We shouldn’t panic yet as Google runs UI tests very often and this could just be another test that wasn’t successful and won’t be brought back. But there is a good chance if the test was successful, Google would eventually implement it and add another factor to the search result pages (or rather remove one).
If implemented, this could affect SEO in more ways than one. And if it did get implemented, would it apply to paid search results as well?
Screenshots courtesy of @tecnonetblog.