Google’s Knowledge Graph took on some new work this week, driving popups of information about some of the website sources that users see in their search results.
According to a posting at Google’s Search blog, clicking on the name of the information source that appears next to the link delivers details about that source, as in the picture at left. “You’ll see this extra information when a site is widely recognized as notable online, when there is enough information to show or when the content may be handy for you,” reports Bart Niechwiej, the software engineer who wrote up the news.
The feature’s been getting a lot of buzz. Much of the information informing Google’s Knowledge Graph comes from Wikipedia, as well as from Freebase and the CIA World FactBook. And, when it comes to a popup source of information you’re likely to see show up somewhere in most searches’ results, Wikipedia likely will be among them. In fact, observers like Matt McGee over at Search Engine Land have noted about the new feature that “the popups rely heavily on Wikipedia.”
There may be some irony there, given reports this month that Google may be eating into Wikipedia page views. These reports appear to have started at The Daily Dot, where Joe Kloc pointed out that Wikipedia’s annual report card shows that for the first time since 2008, Wikipedia’s total number of page-views declined for the first time since 2008.
He observes that Wikipedia has held an unchallenged position for people looking for information about things like celebrities or historical figures. But things are changing: “Google’s Knowledge Graph (the search function that displays key facts about queries on the right side of the results page) has made that function of Wikipedia obsolete,” he writes. “Now, for example, one need only go as far as the Google results page of Leonardo da Vinci to find out when the artist was born.”
That said, Kloc writes that he doesn’t think that Google taking traffic from Wikipedia is necessarily a bad thing. And an update to the article also notes that a Wikimedia spokesperson reached out after the story’s publication to state that the foundation welcomes Google Knowledge Graph to use its content.
In the blog posting announcing Google’s introduction of more information about websites behind the search results, Niechwiej makes the point that Google’s done this to help users click on the search result that’s right for them. He also notes that Google expects to provide more information about more websites as it expands the Knowledge Graph, “making it easier for you to choose the right result.”