Google users, get ready to discover something new when you search for certain topics — three “in-depth” articles will appear from sources like the New Yorker and National Geographic, reflecting what Google thinks are the most important takeaways on that given subject.
The “in-depth” searches, which were announced by Google in a Tuesday blog post, cover serious topics like capital punishment and lighter ones like Legos and Taylor Swift. Here is an example for what will appear, along with the regular results, when a user searches for feminist “Gloria Steinem:”
According to Jake Hubert, a product manager with Google’s search team, the in-depth articles will be drawn from across the web and are intended to provide users with a deeper take on a given subject. (“In-depth articles” will appear on the right side of the page alongside ads and the other search features Google has been adding.)
For now, a search on Google will yield three in-depth articles — and that’s it from that category. This three-article limit is likely to produce familiar criticisms that Google is playing favorites or tilting its results towards one agenda or another. (How, for instance, does Google propose to choose only three articles for terms like “Palestine” or “abortion”?) On topics like Lego, of course, the choices may not be as controversial:
In a preview of ten “in-depth” results, I noticed that nearly all of the results came from prestigious newspapers and magazines. Hubert, though, says lesser known blogs or small-town newspapers will make the three-article cut if they are especially definitive or informative.
The new feature will also be of considerable interest to media publishers since prime placement on a Google search page can deliver a bonanza of new visitors — this is already the case for stories that appear on Google News though, in the case of the in-depth articles, the visits are likely to be more of a long-tail effect.
Hubert also said by phone that the “top 3″ choices will remain relatively stable, as the feature is intended to provide the most important articles in the long term. He added that Google has no plans to sell placements in the “in-depth” slots and that, eventually, the feature may expand and evolve.