Google Updates 'People Also Search For' Feature: Spoiler Alert, It's Helpful But A Bit Obnoxious

FILE- In this Thursday, April 16, 2009, file photo, Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. Google's shareholders are ex
FILE- In this Thursday, April 16, 2009, file photo, Google headquarters in Mountain View, Calif. Google's shareholders are expected to approve on Thursday, June 21, 2012, the company's plan to issue a new class of stock. Google's co-founders, Larry Page and Sergey Brin, and Executive Chairman Eric Schmidt are pushing for the move to ensure that they maintain long-term control of the company. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma, File)

Just when you thought Google couldn't cram any more information onto its Search results pages...

On October 19, the web giant launched a new update to the "People also search for" feature, which (you guessed it) displays related items users that other people also searched for on Google. You might recognize "People also searched for" if you've ever bought an item, and scrolled through the site's list of product suggestions, based on selections made by users with similar shopping tastes. With the new update, however, Google's "People also searched for" feature doesn't just show related searches; Google now explains to the user why it thinks others people wanted to know about those items.

For the uninitiated, the "People also search for" feature appears in a column of info displayed to the right of some search results. It's is part of Google's Knowledge Graph project, which attempts to give users a quick-and-dirty look at what it thinks they want to know about a search term, in the hopes that the user won't have to click on a link to a non-Google site. The Knowledge Graph, launched earlier this year, consists of a database of 500 million people, places and things that Google has gathered from web sources like Wikipedia and Freebase. It offers Google users summaries of information about a search term, presumably making them click on fewer links before getting to the information they're seeking.

"Have you ever flipped through the 'People also search for' section of the Knowledge Graph panels and wondered -- just how are those two people connected anyway?" the company asked in blog post announcing the feature update. "People had fun with our Bacon Number calculator, which revealed some, often surprising, connections, and now we’re taking it one step further."

The new function, which really does remind us of a "Six Degrees of Kevin Bacon" game, is triggered when you hover your cursor over related search items; it displays small blurbs of information to tell you why people also looked up those items. (Helpful? A bit. Annoying? You bet. If you've ever had a know-it-all friend who can't wait to school you at any open opportunity, you know what we're talking about.)

For instance, when you Google search the movie "Fight Club," a slew of other movies appear in the "People also search for" section, towards the bottom right of the webpage. If the cursor hovers over the film "American History X," a little text box appears to explain how those movies are related.

See the example below:

people also search for feature

The company states this feature currently only works for some movies, actors, TV shows and famous family connections, though it seems likely that it will be expanded to include other kinds of search results in the future. TechCrunch also notes this is "obviously just a minor update, but it does highlight the kind of information Google can zero in on thanks to its Knowledge Graph project."



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