Google Looks To Improve Health Search

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When searching for health information online, it’s hard to know what sites are trustworthy. Google has a system for marking authoritative results, but by the company’s own admission most users are unaware of how to interpret the indicators. So how can the experience of searching for health-related information be improved?

How do you gauge the validity of health information in search results? How do you find out what the standard of care is for your particular ailment? In a recent blog post, Google VP Adam Bosworth attempts to tackle these questions and more concerning health-related search – a vertical that finds itself in great demand from searchers these days.

Google already has methods for labeling reliable health-related links within its search results, but as Bosworth writes, the process isn’t really doing all that much to help searchers:

Unfortunately, many of you either don’t notice these words when you’re searching about health questions at Google or have no idea what they mean. Clearly, we can do better at making this kind of labeling noticeable and your ideas on how we could make it clear to you that a site is medically reliable or trustworthy would be greatly appreciated as we think this through.

As the need for relevant and specific health-related search results continues to rise, vertically based engines/portals like Healthline are springing up in an attempt to provider users with accurate and up-to-date information.

Google touts itself as the ultimate repository for all of the Internet’s information. As search has evolved, however, users are less concerned with the quantity of information at their disposal than retrieving as much relevant information about a singular topic or niche as possible, which is the reason that the inception of vertical search engines has become prevalent as of late.

As Bosworth notes here, Google is starting to recognize that it’s the delivery and presentation of information that matters most: 

At the end of the day, all these questions are about how you find the information you need. They are deceptively simple. If they were about restaurants, they would be trivial. But they are actually matters of life and death in the extreme and quality of life in the common case. In short, they matter profoundly.

This overture from Google leaves more questions and little answers, but at least invites community participation in the conversation.

Google Looks To Improve Health Search
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