Google’s Knowledge Graph took many regular users by surprise, but new traffic statistics show that Google’s user base seems to approve of the new feature.
The Knowledge Graph displays basic information about people and places alongside their search results, providing Google users with a quick way to perform related searches. For instance, a Google search for Abe Vigoda results in the actor’s age and a quick biography along with the covers of his most famous movies. Users can click on one of the covers to perform a Google search on that movie.
Google’s Senior Vice President Amit Singhal says that the Knowledge Graph has driven Google users to perform more searches. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Singhal indicated that Google’s search traffic spiked significantly since the Knowledge Graph launched on May 16th. However, Singhal did not provide any specific numbers to back up its claim.
Analysts note that the new feature has its share of potential issues. It sometimes features inaccurate information, and because most of its information comes from user-driven websites like Wikipedia and IMDB, malicious users could theoretically target certain individuals to intentionally drive inaccurate information to the top of Google search results. Historically, Wikipedia’s moderators have done an excellent job of preventing this type of e-vandalism, however, and IMDB’s strict editing policies should provide sufficient protection for well-known celebrities and films.
The Knowledge Graph also competes directly with pay-per-click (PPC) advertisements on some pages. Google has attempted to correct this by showing the PPC ads first with a drop-down arrow, which users can select to see expanded Knowledge Graph information. Some Google users have complained that the new feature takes up too much screen real estate, especially on netbooks and other smaller screens.
Overall, analysts and Google users seem to approve of the Knowledge Graph, and the feature probably won’t disappear anytime soon. The traffic increase may show that Google is a few steps closer to meeting its goal of creating a “next-generation search engine” that compels user curiosity, leading to more searches and larger ad revenues for the search engine giant. However, analysts will need to wait for the next few months’ traffic statistics to judge whether or not Google’s surge of attention will last, especially given the search result changes introduced by rival engines like Bing over the last several weeks.