On February 1st, Google released a major new beta feature to its search results with the aim of giving users more information and peace of mind about a website before clicking on it. The new ‘about this result’ card displays information about the brand directly from Wikipedia and will display the following information:
- Description of the domain
- Whether the domain is secure
- The full URL of the search result
- Whether the result is organic or an advertisement
In addition to the information above, the ‘about this result’ card also gives the user options to edit their privacy settings and a link to a video explaining how Search works. An image of this new feature was released by Google.
Why is Google sourcing domain information from Wikipedia?
Google has chosen to source all this information from Wikipedia, meaning no SEO efforts can optimise the information shown in this card. Google stated that due to Wikipedia’s editing model relying on thousands of volunteers updating content, these descriptions can provide objective and up to date information about brands and information sources. This effort to provide unbiased information does appear to show Google’s attempts to level the playing field within search results. However for smaller businesses who don’t have their own Wikipedia entry, this new update could potentially put them at a disadvantage.
The motive and impact of this new feature
Google has released this feature to ensure users have a safe online experience and to provide additional peace of mind while using Search. Additionally, the introduction of this feature could have been an attempt to compete for and lessen the number of users who seek out search engines which prioritise privacy and security features as their primary USP.
This feature is also particularly significant at this time as Google said it can be most useful for providing unbiased context for health or financial information. In an era of ‘fake news’ surrounding Covid-19, the ‘about this result’ card can assist in addressing common misunderstandings and provide users with the accurate and authentic information they need to make informed decisions. It is no coincidence that Google’s illustration of the new feature displayed ‘The Lancet’; a peer-reviewed medical journal that provides accurate healthcare information.
From an SEO perspective, we cannot yet be sure how this new feature will impact website traffic. It is possible that by adding this feature, users could find the information and context they need without having to click onto the website, consequently reducing organic traffic. Unfortunately there is also nothing a site owner can do to trigger one of these cards appearing with the aim of increasing trust with the user, if Google has enough information about a site then the card will simply appear automatically.
It is likely that this feature will evolve further over time, so keep your eyes peeled.