How Google Search Sold Out

Slate's If Then


Adrian along with her reporting partner. Leon yeah wanted to measure exactly how often Google search results relieving back to its own answers or own products. It was already clear that Google was pointing users back to its own products more and more frequently over the last decade but the extent to which this was happening was unknown. So they started with the data. We grabbed the searches from Google trends from this several month period from October, twenty, nineteen to January twenty twenty, and it ended up being about fifteen thousand search queries, and we ran those queries ourselves captured the page, and then we analyze the page to see what stuff was. Google was not go where things pointing. So you did fifteen thousand searches, did you do them both on a desktop and mobile phone? We did actually we ended up analyzing just the mobile searches for the study because Google actually sees more searches on mobile. I mean the results are incredible I think that I. In one particular case, you did a search and if you're looking at it on iphone, nothing was pointing outside of Google was that right? We broke it down to ways we looked at the entire first page of search results, and when we looked at that, we found the average was forty one percent was google ecosystem stuff. We also looked at the first screen on an iphone ten, and when we look at just that I screen, we did find searches where it was all google stuff. On. Average. Nearly half of the first page of results from Google search directed the user to Google products forty one percent of the page on an iphone ten, sixty, three percent of the first page was Google's own content. This is a one hundred eighty degree turn from the search engines early design back in two thousand four Larry Page gloated that Google was better than its competitors AOL MSN because quote, their search engine doesn't necessarily provide the best results it provides the portals results years later, Google is doing the same thing that page criticized AOL for. There are basically two ways that will answer your queries directly on the page when you type a question. So, if you want to know when is Valentine's Day, it'll pop up just the date in a box and you don't need the source for that. That date comes from Google's knowledge graph, which is a database of what they call entities, basically people, places, things, ideas, and knowledge graph is from sources that Google really vets, and there is some degree of human saying okay. CAN WE TRUST CIA world factbook? Okay. We'll take all of their data. And put it into knowledge graph. The other way that you can get direct answers on the page is through a system called featured snippets, and this is where Google will look basically at the top ranking search result and grab some text out of the page and display it on the search results page. So you might get something from like wicky how it could be you know Ken Ken. My dog eat Sushi is an example of us. But you've used before I mean there's some of them are like, what are the symptoms of Covid but then some of them are subjective you pointed in one of your pieces to one where it said, how do I get a date right? Exactly I will save for the covid stuff and in general for health queries those usually go through the knowledge panel they try to be really careful about certain categories they call it your money or your life finance and health because. There's a lot of opportunity for misinformation and fraud that being said I have come across a lot of misinformation about MSG. For example, popping up in featured snippets, there's have been a lot of examples of misinformation or content ending up those featured snippets, which doesn't look great for Google, because when you look at it on the search results page it, it's got a box around it. It's at the top. It looks very authoritative and it looks like Google is endorsing this answer.

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