Google is Testing Incognito New Features for SERPs
Always Google it before
This weekend I am going to Brighton. Nothing interesting, you may argue. If it was not for what it led me to discover. Yesterday I typed [Brighton] into Google.co.uk just to check what would come up. I was accidentally using Google Incognito and suddenly realised that the SERP looked different.
Trying on other computers, even on the same network, I did not get this appearance, so I thought I would share my findings, hoping that somebody has already encountered something similar. This is what I saw today as well.
The right side of the screen showed a panel with additional information. Following my astonishment, I opened the normal version of Google.co.uk and typed the same query but noticed that now the panel did not show up. Neither did it show up in Google Incognito mode, when the query was typed in Google.com instead.
I went back to Google.co.uk on Google Incognito and started doing some experiments. I found that the location set did not matter as I typed in the same query for tens of different UK locations. I could still view the panel, no matter if I was set to be in Brighton, London or Edinburgh.
What is it?
I started looking at the panel more closely. I actually hate the word panel, so from now on I will call it “Google Info”.
As you can see in the green circle, I was given the possibility to report a problem.
Curious as I am, I gave it a try. Clicking on “Report a problem”, Google Info aspect changed allowing me to report any issues with single entries.
I am picky and thought the population data was quite outdated so I clicked on “Report” in the population section. I then got the following screenshot.
If I wanted to report other sections, I could click on “Report another problem” and Google Info would give me the chance to report the other sections.
Only information, please
Now I wanted to see which other queries would trigger Google Info. After several attempts, I can almost safely assume that only informational queries trigger Google Info.
One of my queries was [Pacific Ocean]. Let’s have a look at it.
Google Info’s image is extracted from geography.about.com and it is the same as the image appearing in Google Images. The top of the data is populated from Wikipedia. The rest is yet to be understood. It should be noted that clicking on the image has the same effect as clicking on the entry in Google Images.
Searching for [Obama], we can see other details such as the books he wrote.
In order to understand where the data is taken from, I typed [inauthor:"Obama"] and [Obama] in Google Books but in both cases the Google Info entries did not match the first five results in Google Books.
The Women of Berlusconi
Since I am Italian, I went back to Search and typed [Berlusconi]. This is what appeared. I’ve highlighted four points that I think you may find interesting.
Highlighted in blue, you can see that according to Google Info, Mr Berlusconi is still married to his late wife. As the information is not correct, I went to check Wikipedia and noticed that their data is correct. Thus, I can assume that this section was not populated by Wikipedia. I went back to check [Pacific Ocean] and, also in this case, the data outside the top section differs from Wikipedia’s entry.
Highlighted in red, you can find another mistake. Mr Berlusconi never had a wife named Carla Dall. This is likely to be a truncated repetition of Carla Dall’Oglio, his previous wife. Maybe Google Info only extracts a certain amount of characters per section.
Highlighted in green, is an extra feature, “Movies”, which reports five movies in which he is cited. I checked on the website IMBD, the names do not match.
Highlighted in purple, you can see an associated search. You probably recognize him under the nickname Pato. He probably appears as associated search here as he plays for AC Milan, the team that Mr Berlusconi is president of. As in any other associated search in Google Info, clicking on his image or on his description has the same effect as leading to another Google.co.uk page where the query has been typed in, in this case [Pato].
Pato’s example is interesting because his Google Info image is not taken from Wikipedia nor from Google Images. It actually does not appear in the first few pages of Google Images. This may answer my question regarding the origin of those images. Goal!
This morning I wanted to see what the web was like about yesterday’s FC Barcelona defeat in Champions League so I typed in [fc Barcelona] on Google.co.uk in Incognito and this is what it was shown.
Highlighted in red, you can see a Google+ section, where the latest post is shown, along with the post picture and the number of +1 and comments. There are also links to FC Barcelona’s Google+ Page and to this specific post.
I am now running other experiments in order to see which other features Google Info has, and when it is triggered. I will keep you updated.
In the meantime, what do you think about this new feature for informational queries? Has anybody else encountered something similar? After spending a good couple of hours with “Google Info”, I can confirm results were accurate and pictures on target. Wikipedia’s entries also acquire more exposure than ever, as they now appear twice in the SERPs.
My opinion? We may be incredibly close to another Google update.