You Ask and Google Answers – But It's Not Always What You Want to Hear!

You Ask and Google Answers – But It's Not Always What You Want to Hear!

In Google We Trust

Google Logo Heinrich Hertz

It’s no secret that Google always wants to do the right thing by users, and it shows. A recent survey found that 83% of U.S. search engine users prefer to use Google as their search engine of choice with its nearest competitor, Yahoo, closing at 6% of users. Globally, that figure amounts to over 1 billion daily searches and plenty of room for error.

Introducing Google’s New Search Feature

Minimising errors and improving results for users is the catalyst for all the experiments and new features Google brings out. One of the latest features that is gaining traction in results is the use of best guesses.

Recognising the increase of straight-forward user queries, it is becoming more common for results to show immediate answers at the top of search results in the place of links. Google refers to theses as Best Guesses. Common examples include “When did/was” and “What is” questions, as well as queries about measurement (see below):

Opera House Construction

Search query relating to time with Best Guess result from Google

Conversion Query


Though well intentioned, this potentially  poses a problem as the answers can be pulled from unofficial or low authority sites relating to the query, as seen above when asking, “When was the Opera House built?”. As the image shows, the source of Google’s Best Guess is, which is shown alongside a link to view the snippet of text  from which the answer was reached. Unfortunately in this case, this website had cites 1958 as the year the a tram depot was demolished to make way for the Opera House, when in fact the correct year was 1959. This is more than likely due to the close proximity of “1958” throughout the page to words related to “built”: “commenced” and “construction”.

Below we can see another example of an alternate search result for the query: “What is SEO?”. Instead of a ‘best guess definition’, the algorithm spells out the acronym “SEO” for us:

What is SEO? Search Results

‘What is SEO?’ Search Results

If we venture further into More info, the first result may surprise you!

What is SEO? search result

What is SEO? search results

Evidently, there is much more work that needs to go into Google’s search features. As with any new development, Google’s engineers would be analysing and making corrections to provide results with a higher relevancy. In fact, one analyst is assigned to each algorithm change, to analyse the data and then report changes required by the engineers. Here’s a more in depth view of how changes are developed:


What can you do with a best guess?

Best Guesses is the perfect opportunity to re-organise your content in a way that answers the questions that your website’s audience asks. One of the best ways to make use of Best Guesses is to have an optimised Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) section. The FAQ section alleviates curiosity and will answer the repetitive questions that you may often face.

Obviously if you are an e-commerce retailer, there won’t be any need to answer questions like, “What is a television?”. But you may have a snippet of content on your product pages that addresses questions about a certain TV brand, or a specific feature such as describing the difference between an LED and LCD screen, the advantages of a Blu-Ray device and so on.

And who knows, maybe your best guess will land you a #1 search result?


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We’ve been in the digital marketing field for over 18 years and worked with hundreds of Australian (and international) businesses to grow their web presence. Specialising in SEO, search ads (PPC), social media, content marketing, email marketing and conversion rate optimisation.

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