Google is making a change to its sacred Search to provide more information about the results it serves and the websites where it sends users.
On Tuesday, the company’s head of Search JK Kearns unveiled a change to the simple UI of Search: a little menu next to each result.
The button pulls up a prompt from the bottom of the screen showing some information about the website — a link to a Wikipedia article if present, whether it’s an advertisement or not, whether it’s HTTPS and even when the site was first indexed by Google.
“With this additional context, you can make a more informed decision about the sites you may want to visit and what results will be most useful for you,” Kearns wrote in a blog post.
The prompt also shows a link to the user’s privacy settings and an explanation of how Google Search actually works.
For other types of information that Google presents in its knowledge graphs — like job listings or business information — the menu will describe how and where Google sources that information from.
All this goes to assist people using Search to find out more about what Google is suggesting to them without actually having to go to the website itself.
One of the features of tech platforms like Google is how platforms standardise all types of content to the same presentation.
A search result showing the website of the World Health Organization looks exactly the same as a search result for a crank, pseudoscience website.
Unless you know about the website from its domain and description, you can’t tell anything about it until you click it.
And that’s a feature that bad actors — fake news peddlers, grifters, you name it — exploit to their advantage.
This change to Google Search is trying to address this issue. It’s being rolled out on desktop, mobile and on the Google App on Android — although, if Google follows through on their threat to leave, it might not be around for long.