Google Product Experiments: The Mystery of the Purple Marker

Today’s post was written by Josh Kinney, our Search Engine Marketing Manager.

If you search the web enough, you’ll notice Google implementing changes within its search results — and if you’re really lucky, you might just catch wind of an experimental change that could shed light on future permanent changes. Last week I noticed something on Google Maps that stood out significantly. In the screenshot below you’ll notice a “place” appear on the map as usual, sans the usual red marker. This time, the marker is a bold purple color. This minor change took place only briefly. It was gone by my next search.

We can easily speculate that this difference in color is a new way to classify listings that appear on the map. For example, maybe Google is working on a legend to classify a local company versus a national chain with a local listing. Or perhaps Googlers are working on some other indicator that could be easily recognized by a color-code. Of course, I can’t verify this. There’s nothing matching this on the web except an index of varying color markers that I found here. On the linked page, you’ll see a list of icons that can be used on maps, likely for the Google Maps API. It’s understood that map icons can be changed in Google Adwords with location extensions. For instance, blue can be seen as the default marker with an Adwords ad that uses location extensions. But the purple marker is a bit of a Google phenomenon. I’ve personally never whitnessed a purple marker like this before. Small blips like this make the job interesting for an SEO or online marketing firm. Nearly every day there are changes made or slowly being rolled out. Once you think you have it all figured out, Google will change their algorithms or throw something else into the mix. Just a couple months ago I first noticed signs of extended site links in organic results. These used to be simple links, but now include a mini description of the page, destination URL and full-sized link text. This feature, seen in the next screenshot, was initially something that  popped up only periodically…now it’s a regular staple in the search results.  The moral of the story is, don’t get too comfortable in this industry. Adaptation will be one of the only constants.