‘Google+ People and Pages’ seem to have disappeared into thin air. Now, depending on your search query, it is a whole lot of Knowledge Graph-related content that appears in its place. Google is reshuffling its search results layout and there is only so much prime real estate available, so Google Plus Pages visibility seems to be on the sacrificial altar, perhaps temporarily.
An introduction to People and Pages on Google+
The primary objective of the Google+ ‘Search plus Your World’ feature was to ensure higher personalized content visibility from Google Plus in the search results. A content box called People and Pages used to appear alongside the results. Irrespective of whether you were logged into G+ or not, the content box would appear. This content box even showed up for generic search terms such as ‘Facebook’, ‘food’, ‘music’, ‘hotel’, etc.
But Google drew some flak when it came to the results displayed for ‘Facebook.’ Searchers were directed to Mark Zuckerberg’s inactive Google+ page rather than his Facebook profile. Was Google, in its quest for promoting Google Plus, neglecting the relevancy of search results?
The End of Google+ People and Pages?
With the launch of the Knowledge Graph, ‘People and Pages’ display has taken a backseat. A search for ‘cars’ which earlier used to provide Google+ page links to Toyota, Ferrari, Nissan, and other brands, now provides a reference to the movie “Cars”. The Knowledge Graph displays a potpourri of different content, some relevant and some which are clearly not relevant. Google responds to accusations by saying that they are blending content from different sources, which is why sometimes there is a lot of extra and unwanted content displayed. The Knowledge Graph is actually used to provide fun and popular facts about people, places, and things alongside the traditional results. It follows a new technique of searching where words are searched based on the concepts that they relate to. The Knowledge Graph only appears when Google deems it as relevant.
For example, you search for Seattle Mariners, a professional baseball team. What you are returned is a link to the Mariner’s Google+ page instead of their official website. The Knowledge Graph box contains a number of internal links for Google, which really does not provide the relevant information. Ideally, searchers should be directed to an official website. Considering all these, critics are not wrong when they accuse Google of advertising itself. But hey, it’s Google’s own search engine, they can do what they want with it, right?
The Knowledge Graph does have its advantages such as allowing users to scroll through all the data from inside the Knowledge Graph box itself. But its disadvantage is that it restricts users to Google.com and other internal sites. Consider another popular search on Buckingham Palace. If you want to book tickets to Buckingham Palace, the Knowledge Graph does not contain any options for this.
Competition, Future, and Accusations
Currently, Google is in the nascent stage of developing Knowledge Graph and right now critics are busy hurling accusations at Google. But someday Knowledge Graph may be used not just for facts but also for linking searchers to the most relevant pages on the web.