Google has added a new set of information to the Knowledge Graph, in the form of medical diagnostic information that will be displayed when people perform searches about health related keywords. The system is going to be rolled out over the next few days, and will show medical facts, as well as health related information including symptoms, treatment, and details about the prevalence of the conditions that the person is searching for. The knowledge graph will also include detailed illustrations of anatomy that have been provided by licensed, qualified medical illustrators. This is not the first time that the search engine has tried to work with health related information. However, previous attempts did not go well. In the past, Google sourced information from the search engine itself, which meant that there were problems with mis-diagnosis and with inaccurate information being perpetuated. Google decided that it would hire a team of doctors who would work with Google to ensure that the results were as accurate as possible. In addition, Google has written a blog post that explains that the search engine has provided the search results and the knowledge graph for informational purposes only. They tell searchers that they should still seek professional medical advice if they have any concerns about their health.
More than Just Symptoms
In addition to allowing users to search for information about their symptoms, there are other options for this feature. These latest updates could have a serious adverse impact on the fortunes of brand owners. In the western world, smartphone owners are used to searching for information about almost everything, from shopping to travel, and even health. From the perspective of publishers and brand owners, the health knowledge graph could produce mixed results. Knowledge graph results tend to appear at the top of the SERPs, and could lead to fewer visits to websites that typically offer medical information such as Mayo Clinic or WebMD. Even those who are paying for advertising may find that their traffic suffers, because new Knowledge Graph sections tend to appear near the top of the page, above the advertisements. While advertisers pay only for ads that get clicked on, losing ad clicks is still an issue – it can impact adversely on the quality score of the advertisements, and this can mean that the advertiser may see their cost-per-click increase. This means that publishers and product marketers have not responded positively to this new feature.