Early last year, Google hired a “public liaison of search” to help clarify how its flagship product works. The latest in this Search explainer series discusses what appears in Featured Snippets, the Knowledge Graph, and Autocomplete.
Those three features work differently from organic Search listings and rankings, or the blue links. Google has different policies in place as they highlight information more prominently and “show up when you haven’t explicitly asked for them.” Depending on the query, the search engine will “correct information or remove those features.”
Predictive features in Google Search include Related Searches and Autocomplete. The latter in recent weeks has been subject to some criticism for not showing certain terms that some groups feel are obvious, with that subset equating it to bias by Google.
At a high-level, Google explains that it will not show Autocomplete predictions that “might be shocking or offensive or could have a negative impact on groups or individuals.” This policy applies to violence, gore, profanity, hate, and several other areas.
You can still issue any search you’d like, but we won’t necessarily show all possible predictions for common searches. If no predictions appear or if you’re expecting to see a related search and it’s not there, it might be that our algorithms have detected that it contains potentially policy-violating content, the prediction has been reported and found to violate our policies, or the search may not be particularly popular.
Google has also published standards for what content can appear in Featured Snippets at the top of Search to provide an immediate answer on the web, or for Assistant. Search’s automated systems are designed to filter a similar set of content:
We don’t allow the display of any snippets that violate our policies by being sexually explicit, hateful, violent, harmful or lacking expert consensus on public interest topics.
The company reiterates that this does not remove the original webpage from Search.
Google also talked about the Knowledge Graph. This system is one of the company’s key advantages against other search engines and smart assistants.
The Knowledge Graph in Google Search reflects our algorithmic understanding of facts about people, places and things in the world. The Knowledge Graph automatically maps the attributes and relationships of these real-world entities from information gathered from the web, structured databases, licensed data and other sources.
User feedback is leveraged to make sure Knowledge Panels and voice results are accurate. Google will manually verify and update information, and interestingly notes how it has “developed tools and processes to provide these corrections back to sources like Wikipedia, with the goal of improving the information ecosystem more broadly.”