Google Adds Depth To Searches
August 7, 2013

Google Searches Get Deeper

Michael Harper for - Your Universe Online

Google is working to improve their core product, search, by including more in-depth articles in the results. Those looking for information on Legos, Taylor Swift and more will now be given a recommended three articles along with their regular search results. This, writes Google technical staff member Pandu Nayak, could benefit a full ten percent of people conducting searches each day. As the new feature rolls out over the next few days, Google will only provide an additional three in-depth articles on the topic being researched, and only those searching in English have access to these articles, at least initially.

"To understand a broad topic, sometimes you need more than a quick answer," wrote Nayak in a Tuesday blog post announcing the new feature.

These extra articles will appear on the right side of the page, next to the advertisements and other bits of information Google has been including in searches lately.

In a bit of a cheeky example, Google shows off what a search for censorship may look like with the new feature. Amongst results which may include definitions, news items about censorship and other suggested searches, Google includes three additional articles written by both large and small publishers to provide a more in-depth information. Google is still fighting the Attorney General and FBI to allow them to reveal just how many requests they receive from the government through the Foreign Intelligence Surveillance Act.

And it's not just the issue of censorship that gets the in-depth treatment, of course. Nayak also says searches for less controversial topics like Legos will return articles about the product's relationship to gender stereotypes, engineering and art. In an interview with Gigaom, Google's search team product manager Jake Hubert said these informative articles will be collected from across the vast expanses of the web.

When tested by Gigaom, however, only articles written by large news sources such as the New York Times, Wall Street Journal and the Guardian appeared.

Hubert claims articles hosted on smaller sites have a chance to make it to the in-depth articles spot if they're particularly informative. Publishers can also check out Google's webmaster guidelines on how to get their articles included in the new feature.

The question still remains just how exactly Google will select the articles to return in a search. Though it may be relatively inoffensive to return something exhaustive about gender norms in a search about Legos, the same type of article concerning abortion, Julian Assange or the death penalty might not go over well. This could go particularly poorly for Google if the articles it chooses for such sensitive topics seem to suggest the search giant is siding with a particular individual or opinion.

For now, Nayak says he's happy to see people interested in articles many months or even years after they were first written.

"This is exactly what you'll find in the new feature. In addition to well-known publishers, you'll also find some great articles from lesser-known publications and blogs."