March 25, 2013

Glimpse of the Next Major Change To Google Search?

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Published: 25 March 2013 

I was just doing a little bit of outreach and something pretty interesting happened. Generally when you do a search, no matter what it is, you are given the web results and if Google thinks you'd benefit from changing to image, news or places search it throws a handful of those results at you and gives you the option to switch. Not this time! I was searching for animal rescue websites with terms such as "animal rehoming," "animal shelter," and "dog rehoming," when it dawned on me that I was getting an awful lot of local listings. I then realised there were only 2 pages of information being shown to me and that I was somehow inside the places search. I then repeated it for "restaurant West End" using the URL bar to perform the search and it again recognised my query as local and automatically changed the results into the Google places.

This is just the result you get from Google places for that search term so it's not exactly groundbreaking. The real story is that Google automatically sent me here after deducing that I would be better off making that search. About 60 seconds later the same search supplied a normal web search result.

Ben Maden

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3 comments on “Glimpse of the Next Major Change To Google Search?”

  1. Hi Joe,

    Interesting that you would be placed in places search results, at least according to the highlighted link/tab at the top of results on the page above. But there are Web Listings under those, so it's definitely not just local results that you're being shown.

    I did write about a patent filing from Google a while back that took queries and decided which data center to use based upon a predictive algorithm. It didn't say that Google would also change vertical search type to display Places results, but that looks like what might be happening - like you state - "The real story is that Google automatically sent me here after deducing that I would be better off making that search."

    It sounds like Google is experimenting here, and you were in the middle of that experiment.

    I'm curious if the highlighted tab/link at the top would have changed to Web results if you had clicked through to the second page.

  2. Hello Bill,

    I can confirm that when I clicked through to the second page it remained in places search. As you most likely know the web search results down the bottom are the default way that Google displays all searches conducted in the places vertical much like how when you web search Google assumes you MAY be trying to find local businesses offering you a snippet, likewise news, images etc. So it's basically just gone to the next level of assumption, which makes sense for Google in the long run anyway. I agree about the experimentation. They most likely just wanted to track reactions and based on the fact that it actually took me, an SEO, a moment to even notice the change I dare say their experiment probably went well. I wouldn't be surprised to see this rolled out more extensively soon.

    Thanks for commenting.

  3. Pretty cool you got to experience this and, imho, this is what we will see more of going forward - more "predictive search". Answers instead of options. Google Now is another important sign pointing to this.

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