• 12 May 2016
  • 4 Min read

Industry round-up: Google’s link colour testing and Twitter’s ambitions to improve its search function

This edition of the industry-round up will bring you the latest in the world of digital marketing, including: Google’s experiments with black hyperlinks, Facebook being accused of suppressing conservative news in its trending sidebar, and Twitter’s ambitions to improve its search function.

Google tests black hyperlinks in place of its traditional blue


Google has begun to test alternative colours to their traditional blue hyperlinks by road-testing black links in many of their search result listings. Take a look at this screenshot captured by Twitter user @ajpanghulan.

The prospect of new black-coloured links has received a mixed impression, with many Twitter users questioning why Google would even think about changing something as established as the shade of their hyperlinks. The move is being held up as an example of A/B testing, where the corporation tests changes on a small scale before they roll it out worldwide.

Google has altered its colour scheme in the past, memorably using A/B testing to determine which shade of blue it should choose from a range of 40 options. The special shade that they settled on has been speculated to have earned the search giant an additional £200 million in ad revenue since being introduced.

Facebook accused of censoring conservative news


© Mateus Lunardi Dutralicence

According to a report that appeared on Gizmodo, former Facebook staff have said that they were tasked with routinely suppressing conservative news stories in their ‘trending’ sidebar section.

The report alleges that several hotly debated conservative news topics, such as news about past presidential hopeful Mitt Romney and murdered Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, were censored despite being some of the most discussed topics of the time.

Another revelation from the report was the allegation that Facebook falsely inserted stories into the section that were not as widely discussed in order to improve their visibility.

Facebook’s vice president of search, Tom Stocky, took to the social network to respond to the story, saying:

“We take these reports extremely seriously, and have found no evidence that the anonymous allegations are true.”

He went on to provide details on how the stories were selected, saying that topics are found by an algorithm, but several curators decide whether they should make the sidebar. You can read his full statement below.

Twitter’s search ambitions


Sam Luckenbill, Twitter’s director of engineering for search infrastructure, revealed in a blog post that the social network is looking to re-evaluate the way that people can search for media other than tweets, such as Vine videos and Periscope livestreams. This is because many Twitter users find themselves turning to Google’s search engine when they need to find other types of posts, which is able to produce much more productive results. It’s a problem Wikipedia is also looking to address, as we discussed in this industry round-up.

Luckenbill acknowledged this in his blog post, saying:

“Currently, the core search infrastructure team only maintains indexes of Tweets and users.”

He went on to introduce a new information retrieval system that is being built called Omnisearch. This new function would aim to improve searches in general as well as building indexes of Moments, Vines, and Periscope broadcasts.

It has been speculated that Twitter would like to position itself as a leading source of information for people performing searches for these types of media, much like the way that people go specifically to Amazon for product information, which now accounts for 44% of all consumer searches according to a survey undertaken by Survata. If Twitter was able to do so, it would be able to take advantage of this increased number of users to enhance their revenue streams.

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