If you are checking something in Google and the search result appears differently, don't be surprised. Google is testing a new version of search results that is appearing in black links instead of the usual blue version.
Users who have spotted the change claim Google is A/B testing for search results. The test replaces traditional blue links with the black ones while the body text and linking remain the same black and green. However, it is highly unlikely the change would be rolled out anytime soon.
A few years ago Google earned a whopping $200m (£138m) from A/B testing by switching different shades of blue on advertising links in Gmail and Google search. The move was heralded by Dan Cobley, managing director, Google UK.
Cobley explained: "About six or seven years ago, Google launched ads on Gmail. In our search we have ads on the side, little blue links that go to other websites: we had the same thing on Gmail. But we recognised that the shades of blue in those two different products were slightly different when they linked to ads."
"We ran '1%' experiments, showing 1% of users one blue, and another experiment showing 1% another blue. And actually, to make sure we covered all our bases, we ran 40 other experiments showing all the shades of blue you could possibly imagine."
"And we saw which shades of blue people liked the most, demonstrated by how much they clicked on them. As a result we learned that a slightly purpler shade of blue was more conducive to clicking than a slightly greener shade of blue, and gee whizz, we made a decision."
"But the implications of that for us, given the scale of our business, was that we made an extra $200m a year in ad revenue," said Cobley.
As the designer could not decide between two different blues, they chose to test 41 shades between the blue colours.
In an A/B testing in 2015, the company spent months to try blue navigation links before replacing with the red ones, suggests a report by the Telegraph.
Doug Bowman, a Google designer, earlier in 2009 said: "It's true that a team at Google couldn't decide between two blues, so they're testing 41 shades between each blue to see which performs better.
"I can't operate in an environment like that. I've grown tired of debating such miniscule design decisions. There are more exciting design problems in this world to tackle," Bowman added.
How to get blue links back in search
There is workaround available to turn off Google's A/B test in case you don't like the blue link. According to folks at Google Search Help Forum, logging out of your Google account and then logging in back bring the blue links back.
Meanwhile a Redditor has found out disabling "Your searches and browsing activity" in Chrome's settings can get you the blue links back. To disable this perform the following steps:
Alternatively, you can use Chrome extensions such as Stylish to restyle any web page.
Meanwhile, when the Verge reached out to Google to know more about the change in search, a spokesperson from the company said: "We're always running many small-scale experiments with the design of the results page. We're not quite sure that black is the new blue."