Over time, Google has been showing more and more content on search results pages, resulting in people having to click over to third-party websites for fewer and fewer things. Now, Google is showing song lyrics, in what should be considered an enormous blow to lyrics sites.
Is Google going overboard with the content it's providing on search results page or is it just delivering a better user experience? Both? Share your thoughts in the comments.
Search "Goodbye Horses lyrics," for example, and you'll get the song's words in all their glory. That's on both mobile and desktop.
As you may notice, these results feature a link to Google Play at the bottom of the box, so those concerned about Google being anti-competitive will have a new thing to complain about. If you click Google Play, it takes you to a Google Play page that hosts the lyrics, but also the option to buy the song from Google.
In some cases, a search will return only some of the lyrics, and a prompt to get the "full lyrics on Google Play".
This might be a U.S. feature only right now. It doesn't appear to be showing up in Europe at the moment, which isn't too surprising given that Google is under the eye of competitive scrutiny over there.
Google is currently embroiled in a years-long antitrust investigation into its search business. Among the complaints against it is that it favors its own results. Google escaped a similar probe in the U.S. by the Federal Trade Commission a couple years ago.
In reality, the feature does make Google better from the user standpoint. It makes it much easier to find the words to songs, but it's definitely going to anger some website owners. As you probably know by now, though, Google says it caters to users, not websites.
I guess Genius (formerly Rap Genius) didn't get the last laugh after all. You may recall that Google had penalized the lyrics site briefly for violating webmaster guidelines.
On a higher level, this is an interesting look at how Google can basically wipe out an entire category of websites in one fell swoop. Which category will be next.
In all fairness, lyrics sites can try to get more out of non-Google traffic sources. Genius has already tried to Google proof itself with an app. Either way, Google's move is a huge blow to all such sites. Lyrics are something that people search for probably far more often than they share them on social media.
Now, enjoy having Goodbye Horses stuck in your head for the rest of the day.
Image via Google