Google has been changing their search result pages subtly over the last few years—rich snippets, authorship and Google+, etc.—but businesses have surely taken notice. The way that your company appears in a search result is incredibly important because it can affect the number of clicks that the entry will receive.

Recently, it has been reported that Google might be changing things once again. A few entries have appeared on various SERPs with the company brand name attached to them. It starts with the brand name, then a colon, and then the title of the article. The unannounced development has companies wondering not only if they can get involved and how; but do they even want to?

How the New “Brand Name: Search Title” Works

The new look was discovered by Search Engine Roundtable who explained that the source codes of these pages are written the exact same as your usual entry. It doesn’t include the brand name and then a colon and then the title—it just includes the title and in the case, the company name at the end.

So why is this happening? In most cases, the brand name is not even included in the code, so it’s tough to know why it has happened, and Google hasn’t made any formal announcement. Many have been noticing this happening to their site’s over the last few days, and yet no one seems to know why.

The best guess probably comes from Gordon Campbell who explains that the colon is merely just replacing hyphens and pipes to help keep things clean and consistent. This theory supports the example above because as you can see, York Fitness did include their company name in the title, it was just at the end and separated by a pipe. Still, no one will know for sure until Google makes an announcement.

What This Means for Your Business

As of now, there don’t seem to be any reported cases of this new layout changing rankings. Those seeing the change have discussed in the comments of the articles discussed above as well as a Google+ discussion, and most agree that this should not affect rankings negatively in any way (and if something does change for the better, it would be very minor). After all, Google changing the title of an entry has been common practice for many years.

Has this happened to your website entries? Do you have any thoughts as to why Google might have made this change? Do you agree with it? Let us know your thoughts in the comments below.