Google tested header images that matched the search query in Search

For search queries such as “creative ideas” or “tattoo ideas”, some mobile users were able to see background images in the Google search that illustrate the query.

Are you looking for ideas for a flower arrangement or a suitable tattoo on Google and suddenly the header in Search turns into a sea of ​​flowers or shows people with tattoos? A test on Google made exactly that possible for some users in the mobile search: The headers were adapted to their search queries, for example when searching for “creative ideas”. The basically white background was replaced by an image licensed by Google. However, the test also produced problematic header images.

Visually new territory in mobile Google search: Search queries determine the background

One of the first to see and share the Google experiment was Twitter user Yvo Schaap:

As a result, the SEO expert Barry Schwartz at Search Engine Land also reported on the test, which was confirmed to him by Google. First, Google gave its standard answer:

We’re always testing new ways to improve the search experience and make it more helpful, modern and delightful to use.

In this case, the search experience should be optimized so that users of search queries that combine a word with the keyword “ideas” see a background that is visually adapted to this query. This worked, for example, with search queries such as “tattoo ideas”, “creative ideas”, “flower ideas”, but also “seo ideas” or “ideas for christmas”. Barry Schwartz shared the results of his research:

Example of a header matching the search query
Example of a header matching the search query “flower ideas” in the mobile Google search, source: Barry Schwartz
Example of a header matching the search query
Example of a header matching the search query “tattoo ideas” in the mobile Google search, source: Barry Schwartz
Example of a header matching the search query
Example of a header matching the search query “seo ideas” in the mobile Google search, source: Barry Schwartz

We couldn’t test the feature on the move ourselves. However, Google’s Danny Sullivan, head of Google’s SearchLiasion area, stated via Twitter that Google had paused the test. The reason is that some headers could be perceived as very suggestive. In addition, Google wants to check whether there may be pictures with nudity or explicit (e.g. sexual) headers over the search queries. Twitter user Valentin Platzer was able to see a header with a naked person when he searched for “nudity ideas”.

Barry Schwartz also pointed out on Twitter that some search queries – such as “intercourse ideas” – show headers in the context of adult content.

However, these are not very explicit. Google will now check to what extent the headers match the search query. If there are still fears that unsuitable images will appear in some search queries, the test could finally be shelved. But if he comes back and this feature is possibly even rolled out for all users in the future, they could use a visually appealing and more dynamic search template.

Alternatively, if you want to add a GIF background to your Chrome browser to bring some visual content into play, you can set this up with the help of our How-to.


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