Google is giving users more information about the search results before they click on a particular link. Now when you hover over the URL a box will pop up that provides details about the organization that runs the website.
The Guardian reported that Google does this by using its Knowledge Graph – an encyclopedia database with more than 570 million entries – to better inform searchers.
The tool will be exceptionally helpful for students looking to research various topics, but can also provide insight and authority to anyone looking to expand his or her knowledge.
Let’s not pretend that students actually use books in the library anymore to write their reports. More often than not, a student will search for topic, click whatever link comes after Wikipedia, and use whatever content pops up.
This becomes problematic when the topics are related to current events and the top results are from radical organizations. A Google search of “Racism Post-Civil Rights Movement” could return a result advocating the inferiority of minorities by a hate group. Hovering over the link will now give students and web searchers the back story of what the agenda behind the group is.
Outside of the realm of students, this will be helpful during election years. As voters try to learn more about issues and candidates they will be able to learn that the biting attack of a democrat was written by a Tea Party blog, and vice versa. Googlers are better informed and are able to take the source with a grain of salt.
Back in 2011, the FTC was cracking down on advertorials that too closely resembled organic content on news sites. Do you remember the articles that read “Using this One Treatment, He Lost 10 Pounds in One Week” and the like? The source closely resembled CNN or Fox News or MSNBC, so users clicked because they thought it looked reliable.
This new box looks to prevent results similar to that that. Google gave the example of searching for back pain. The results you see will vary from respected medical journals to less reputable sites looking to sell you something. Use the extra information to choose your clicks wisely.
Not only does this benefit the user in the short run, it benefits the search engines (and again the user) in the long run. When we’re not clicking on the wrong links to sites with hidden agendas, we’re not giving traffic and time to those pages. Google is able to track what we deem useful and valuable and will arrange the results accordingly in the future.
You might get lucky and rank highly for a specific phrase or keyword, but if it’s not relevant to the rest of the content on your site, or if you’re not an authority on it, then you won’t get the traffic.
Not everyone was happy about the new addition. Matt McGee of Search Engine Land pointed out that most of the results linked to Wikipedia for their descriptions. Furthermore, the box has three different links in it: the Wikipedia source, the logo which links to the site’s Google+ page, and the company that owns the site. This means users have three opportunities to click on links other than the original result.
Don’t even get me started on the fact that the logo icon takes users to Google+. Is there any link on Google anymore that doesn’t link to Google+ or require a Google+ login?
This might seem like a minor change by Google, (it’s just a little box, who cares?) but it has ripple effects throughout the Internet. Such is the world we live in, Google sneezes and all of us start checking our analytics.