Google released a big list of 65 “search quality highlights” or changes it made over the course of August and September. We’ve discussed numerous elements of this list in various articles. You can find those here.
One change in particular should make it easier for Google users to find the people they’re looking for in cases when that person has the same name as other people.
The change comes under the project name “Refinements”. Here’s what Google says exactly: “This change helped users refine their searches to find information about the right person, particularly when there are many prominent people with the same name.”
The change was actually made in August, so by now we may have even experienced the effects of it without even realizing it.
Other changes Google has made under the “Refinements” project label in previous lists include:
- Zivango. [project codename “Refinements”] This change leads to more diverse search refinements.
- Autocomplete predictions used as refinements. [launch codename “Alaska”, project codename “Refinements”] When a user types a search she’ll see a number of predictions beneath the search box. After she hits “Enter”, the results page may also include related searches or “refinements”. With this change, we’re beginning to include some especially useful predictions as “Related searches” on the results page.
Making it easier to find a person who has a common name has been one of the things Google’s Knowledge Graph has helped with, at least in cases where “prominent” people share names.
For example, if you search for “brett butler,” Google assume’s you’re talking about the actress from Grace Under Fire, but with Knowledge Graph, Google can also show a box for “see results about” Brett Butler the former Major League Baseball center fielder (bottom right corner):
In some cases, Google isn’t assuming you’re talking about one vs. the other, like in the example above. Here, we see Google let you pick one right from the start: