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Google adds ‘about this result’ feature to deliver more info about search results, will retailers benefit?

Google 'about this result' goes live in US (Image: Google)

Google has added a new ‘about this result’ feature to give searchers more information about a search result before they click on it. It means that the search engine automatically presents information from a brand’s Wikipedia listing within the search results to help searchers.

When a consumer searches for information on Google, they often come across results from familiar, such as major retailer websites, national news sites and more. But there’s also a ton of great information on and services available from sites that they may not have come across before. And while they can always use Google to do some additional research about those sites, Google thinks that better displaying of more information can help searchers find a wider variety of results.

Google says on its blog: “if it’s a site you haven’t heard of before, that additional information can give you context or peace of mind, especially if you’re looking for something important, like health or financial information.”

So starting now in the US, next to most results on Google, users will begin to see a menu icon that they can tap to learn more about the result or feature and where the information is coming from. With this additional context, they can make a more informed decision about the sites they may want to visit and what results will be most useful.

Expected in the UK later this year, the new feature could be a boon to retailers and brands as it will help them get selected of they have the right kind of information available. It could also increase the variety of offerings seen by shoppers online when they search.

However, it could also hit traffic, as Marcus Pentzek, Chief SEO Consultant at Searchmetrics, explains: “This change is Google trying to improve trust in search results especially for important Your-Money- Or-Your-Life (YMYL) topics such as when searchers are looking to make online purchases or find information related to health or financial products and services. However, one effect will be that some brands will see less traffic from these types of searches as searchers use the additional information Google provides to be more selective about which results they click on. The fallout may be bigger on some smaller or newer brands that don’t already have a Wikipedia page or that Google knows less about. ”  

Underpinning this change is Google trying to train its search algorithms to learn which websites (eventually) are best able to serve the search intent for certain important topics such as health and finance – and which websites people don’t trust to do this.

On this, Pentzek warns: “As a result of collecting this information and training its algorithms, I suspect Google may prepare another major update that tries to improve its search results based on information about the sites that people don’t click on after seeing the additional ‘about this result’ information.”

He concludes: “For brands likely to be affected one important action is obviously to ensure they have an accurate and updated Wikipedia entry that is linked to their website. They should ensure their digital marketing teams create an even better and credible Title and Description in the underlying HTML of their pages related to YMYL topics, to catch the searchers’ attention as this information is often displayed in snippets on Google search results pages, a well-designed and credible snippet might make searchers less sceptical.”

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