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Google Adds Health Information to The Knowledge Graph

     
12:57 pm on Feb 10, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Although this is the knowledge graph, which already appears for many search terms, this will take a little more out of the real estate for health search topics.

So starting in the next few days, when you ask Google about common health conditions, you’ll start getting relevant medical facts right up front from the Knowledge Graph. Google Adds Health Information to The Knowledge Graph [googleblog.blogspot.com]
1:30 pm on Feb 10, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I find this worrying:

We worked with a team of medical doctors (led by our own Dr. Kapil Parakh, M.D., MPH, Ph.D.) to carefully compile, curate, and review this information. All of the gathered facts represent real-life clinical knowledge from these doctors and high-quality medical sources across the web, and the information has been checked by medical doctors at Google and the Mayo Clinic for accuracy.


So Google now has its own medical department too?

On the other note, it is interesting that the real estate example in their blog showed mobile phone SERPs and not the desktop.
1:43 pm on Feb 10, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I saw that too, and, many already find diagnosis online.
Dr Google, i have this rash... ;)
3:42 pm on Feb 10, 2015 (gmt 0)

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On the other note, it is interesting that the real estate example in their blog showed mobile phone SERPs and not the desktop.


I wondered about that, too, until I did a desktop search on a couple of medical conditions. The desktop "answer boxes" looked like the mobile examples, displayed in the right-hand column of the page.
6:06 am on Feb 11, 2015 (gmt 0)

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this will take a little more out of the real estate for health search topics.


People like to browse sites and seek out opinions and make their own decisions. This seems to try and limit that option if one chooses to search on health topics via G and expects one to put all of their trust in G.

I think it will affect a lot more than a little of the real estate for health searches. Just look at what happended to the music lyrics sector recently. Greed is what we are witnessing, not an improvement to the user experience.
6:40 am on Feb 11, 2015 (gmt 0)

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It seems like they'll have the burden of continually updating it, as 'advice' like this can be subject to change. I assume it'd be a manual affair, which is unusual for Google.
7:42 am on Feb 11, 2015 (gmt 0)

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The answer engine grows. Be unique or be replaced.
8:02 am on Feb 11, 2015 (gmt 0)

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It's the mark of the beast, no one will be able to buy or sell without this mark.
10:09 am on Feb 11, 2015 (gmt 0)

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This is Google content Knowledge Graph, not Knowledge Graph from other sources. The line of content curation to content creation has moved.

I'd also like to consider all those AdSense publishers that are in this sector. No doubt they are going to be affected, too.
1:25 pm on Feb 11, 2015 (gmt 0)

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The answer engine grows. Be unique or be replaced.


Not sure unique is enough, given that Google feels fine about republishing whatever you might put out.

The line of content curation to content creation has moved.

They used the words "compile, curate, and review". Sounds like copy + rewrite, ala eHow.
1:32 pm on Feb 11, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I'd also like to consider all those AdSense publishers that are in this sector. No doubt they are going to be affected, too.


Also, what will it do to google's ADWORDS revenue?

Will people continue to click on a $5 CPC link IF you can find the information right there?
2:04 pm on Feb 11, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Also, what will it do to google's ADWORDS revenue?


From an advertiser point of view, this might actually raise that $5 cpc if it weeds out the informational clicks on the ads.
3:28 pm on Feb 11, 2015 (gmt 0)

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The answer engine grows. Be unique or be replaced.


Not sure unique is enough, given that Google feels fine about republishing whatever you might put out.


It's not about uniqueness, it's about depth. All the major search engines (not just Google) are evolving beyond "10 blue links," just as computer operating systems evolved to include things like system utilities, file managers, and browsers. If you're searching for "capital of Nebraska," you'll now get told "Lincoln" on the SERP (maybe with some basic info on population, location, etc.), and there won't be any value for the user in having a list of 10 blue links for Answers dot com-style pages that just say "The capital of Nebraska is Lincoln" in the space between half a dozen display ads. For the search engine, it will make more sense to link to sites that have more than the same simple facts that are in answer boxes on the SERPs. That's how links are supposed to work: They're either citations to show sources, or they're a way to provide users with more information on the topic at hand.

Be deep, not shallow. That's more important than "unique."
4:23 pm on Feb 11, 2015 (gmt 0)

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evolving beyond "10 blue links,"

You use that phrase a lot, but often, in situations like this one where that's not the complaint.

I have no beef with Google doing what it wants, when it's ethical. Straight up lifting content from other people and republishing it on their own site is just lousy. Wikipedia, for example, took a very direct hit in traffic based on what Google did. Sure, it's creative commons licensed, so Google was allowed to do it...it's legal. Whether it's ethical is a matter of opinion.

I believe there's a quid-pro-quo relationship between G and content publishers. If G keeps being one-sided about it, it won't be good for either side, in the long run.
4:35 pm on Feb 11, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I believe there's a quid-pro-quo relationship between G and content publishers. If G keeps being one-sided about it, it won't be good for either side, in the long run.


But it isn't one-sided. Wikipedia may have lost traffic, but some publishers have gained significant amounts of traffic since Google and other search engines introduced "answer boxes." (Also, Wikipedia may have lost traffic because it lost rankings. In my sector, at least, Wikipedia and other megasites no longer rule the SERPs in the same way as they did a couple of years ago.)
4:42 pm on Feb 11, 2015 (gmt 0)

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But some publishers have gained significant amounts of traffic since Google and other search engines introduced "answer boxes."


You have a source for that? I find it hard to believe. Introducing what is effectively an 11th "blue link" that you don't have to click on, would almost certainly reduce traffic, in total, for the other 10.

Perhaps a small number of sites that went from say, #4, or #5 to "I'm in the answer box" got a boost. I can't see a situation where aggregate outbound organic clicks goes up.

Google's quarterly reports certainly confirm that paid clicks are still outpacing traffic growth. That means, by association, that organic clicks are going down.
5:34 pm on Feb 11, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I think there is a problem with the text within the boxes. Because I see straight (grey) text like below and by accident when I hovered over the text I found 2 hidden links (to 'Mayo Clinic' and to 'Learn more'). I don't know why links and text look exactly the same, is it usable for readers, or maybe it looks better on mobile devices, I couldn't check:

Sources: Mayo Clinic and others. Learn more
Consult a doctor for medical advice
6:24 pm on Feb 11, 2015 (gmt 0)

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You have a source for that?


Well, our own Google referrals are running nearly 300 percent ahead of the same time last year. Correlation isn't causation, of course, but that's as true of Wikipedia's experience as it is of mine.

Something else that's worth considering in regard to the immediate topic of this thread: Google has said in the past that it's been working on improving the quality of its health results, and rightly so. Take the recent flap over vaccinations and immunizations: I'm sure Google would hate to be in the position of promoting an "antivax" site written by a crackpot who somehow SEOed his or her way to the No. 1 position in the SERPs for "measles vaccine" or "vaccinations."

IMHO, Google's "health answer boxes" are about being credible and responsible. (Maybe that's why Bing has answer boxes for such queries, too.)
10:15 pm on Feb 11, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Aside from the wrongs and rights, it seems the information is not always correct.

Type in "average blood pressure" and the answer given is:

"120 / 80
More than 120 over 80 and less than 140 over 90 (120/80-140/90): You have a normal blood pressure reading but it is a little higher than it should be, and you should try to lower it. Make healthy changes to your lifestyle."

First off, 120 / 80 is not the average blood pressure it's the high end of the ideal level. Second, the description after the highlighted figures is not about "average blood pressure" it's about higher than ideal blood pressure and how to deal with it (ha!).

By putting that information at the top of the SERPS and having it come directly from G (along with their claims about how they have researched and double checked it) the average user might assume it was correct (or at least well researched) information. It is neither.

And what is going on just below the G information? Three more entries all from the same website. It's as if they are so uncertain about the information that they feel the need to put three entries from the source just to cover themselves.
11:28 am on Feb 12, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@EditorialGuy Just because your site has a temporary boost does not mean we should assume this is good for many publishers or as you say "some publishers have gained significant amounts of traffic". Let's be careful to avoid claims without research or evidence to back them up.

In the testing I have done, I have seen a drop in CTR to publishers when an answer box is displayed. (my testing has been on the smaller scale so I wouldn't jump to any conclusions just yet)
2:33 pm on Feb 12, 2015 (gmt 0)

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@EditorialGuy Just because your site has a temporary boost does not mean we should assume this is good for many publishers or as you say "some publishers have gained significant amounts of traffic".


Well, some publishers have. (Not just me.) But in any case, change happens, and Google isn't the only search engine that has moved beyond "10 blue links." If you've got a site that depends on serving up bite-size facts, you'll find yourself in the same boat as the people who used to sell DOS memory managers did.

Fortunately, drive-by visitors who grab a simple fact and move on aren't the ideal visitors, so sites that lose such drive-by traffic aren't necessarily losing much (if anything) in the way of revenue. Every site is different, but for some topics and business models, quality of traffic is more important than quantity.
3:44 pm on Feb 12, 2015 (gmt 0)

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drive-by visitors who grab a simple fact

Have a look at the widgets that are being discussed in this thread.

They aren't just "simple facts".

Try: What is a heart attack?

For me, it brings up two widgets with information that *used* to come from third party websites. Across the two widgets, one of them with three tabs, there are:
- 365 words of content
- 2 detailed images
- A graph

None of it requires leaving the SERP result page to view.

The 2 widgets, combined, occupy 387k of the 715k total (54%) above the fold pixels.
4:29 pm on Feb 12, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I'd guess that anyone who's seriously worried about a heart attack isn't going to be satisfied with 365 words of contact, two pictures, and a graph.

But that's really beside the point, because search-engine "answer boxes" (whether for health or other topics) are a fait accompli.

Businesses are disrupted by progress all the time. Remember when third-party car stereos were all the rage? Or when people had to buy third-party luggage racks for their station wagons?

Site owners who feel threatened by "answer boxes" need to figure out a way to deal with the new reality:

"God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference."
4:45 pm on Feb 12, 2015 (gmt 0)

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Site owners who feel threatened by "answer boxes" need to figure out a way to deal with the new reality.

Right, thus the debate the discussion that you're trying to quash.
4:52 pm on Feb 12, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I strongly encourage everyone to actually read Google's announcement and look at the examples. It will help avoid making inaccurate statements. For example this is less about being an "answer box" and more about being a "detailed content box".

Google states "We’ll show you typical symptoms and treatments, as well as details on how common the condition is—whether it’s critical, if it’s contagious, what ages it affects, and more. For some conditions you’ll also see high-quality illustrations from licensed medical illustrators".

While we can't control or stop Google from doing this, we also shouldn't ignore it or disregard the serious business implications. Google is not our friend. They are simply another for profit company looking out for their own best interest.
5:22 pm on Feb 12, 2015 (gmt 0)

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People unknowingly cherish bad information every day, just look at the popularity of all the trash on the web. Hence, g can feed the masses crap and get away with it

The public, at least in the us, do not tolerate bad info when it directly affects their health. G has to do a better job providing accurate health info than they have been doing providing not so important info.

the cost of making mistakes in health care can get very expensive, especially the bad pr costs.
6:32 pm on Feb 12, 2015 (gmt 0)

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This is just one of many initiatives to do away with organic results, or otherwise sharing any traffic without payment. It will happen a little at a time, across various widgets, ad changes, etc.

You can get a little taste for the future if you try the right query.

Here's one with almost 1000 vertical pixels before you see any organic listings: [i.imgur.com...]

It's not a huge jump to imagine the path to "no organic results on page 1, at all, for any query".
7:57 pm on Feb 12, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I like the idea though since health is subjective to...politics I think when searching for something like, "the cure for ____" (depending on what ___ is though the industry thrives on treating symptons and withholding cures) the official answer will for most questions, at least for a good chunk of the years to come, automatically be the intentionally misleading answer. Unfortunately knowing how to use search operators is simply not enough for a topic like searching on any search engine about health topics. Still an interesting idea if they decide to cut through the politics.

John
10:54 pm on Feb 12, 2015 (gmt 0)

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I like the idea though since health is subjective to...politics I think when searching for something like, "the cure for ____"


I see what you mean. Unfortunately, they haven't really addressed this. I don't see the #1 answers as just "misleading" though. Many seem dangerous.

For example: the cure for cancer

The #1 result is a 100% complete bullcrap story that was scraped from Hubpages.com and reposted on an even less credible domain :)

Same for "cure my cancer" (#1 answer says "Cannabis oil cures cancer"), or variations thereof.
7:23 pm on Feb 13, 2015 (gmt 0)

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#1 answer says "Cannabis oil cures cancer"


Excellent excuse to get get high on cannabis with a clear conscience!

When caught in possession by Mr Plod just roll out the line "I thought I had cancer and G told me to take cannabis, sir"
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