Google New SERP Enhancement – “Best Guess”

by Matthew Diehl on May 26, 2011

Google’s primary goal is to deliver search users the best possible answers to any query. Often times this requires them to include enhanced features like maps, video, images, news, etc. Now, lets add “Best Guess” to the list of enhancements.

The SERPs are in fact Google’s best guesses to answer the query that you have entered and now, included in those results is Google’s singular best guess. Here is what it looks like:

Google Best Guess Enhanced SERP

Clean, simple, and nothing fancy about it, just the answer that Google thinks is the best guess answer to your query based on their sources. So, lets check out those sources:

Google Best Guess Show Sources

3 sources from Wikipedia
3 sources from NYTimes.com
1 source from WordPress.com

All 7 of these sources are pulled from the first page of results. It’s obvious why Wikipedia is there (they are always there), the same goes for NYTimes.com as it is a brand related search but what is that WordPress resource? Turns out, it is a Liverpool FC fan site that happened to blog about the LFC now being part owned by NYT. Not your most trusted resource to list but none-the-less a resource that had it right.

It looks like Google Best Guess is designed to mine the sources on the first page of results and when enough sources, looks to be 7 is the magic number, “say the same thing” Google will generate their best guess to save the user the time of clicking on each site.

So while trying to find more examples for everyone I found that Google Best Guess consistant shows up on Celebrity marriage queries like “so-and-so is married to” or “who is married to so-and-so”. Well, Best Guess needs a little more work…

Ashton Kutcher is married to

Demi Moore is married to

Bruce Willis is married to

Emma Hemming is married to

Looks like Bruce and Ashton are still duking it out over Demi, sorry Emma. But the good news is, there is a feedback button next to the Best Guess result and you can let Google know when they got it right or wrong.

Bruce Willis married to wrong

Anyone else seeing the Google Best Guess results and have example queries they want to share?

UPDATE – Other types of searches that generate a Best Guess
Author – “who wrote harry potter” or “who is the author of white fang
CEO – “who is the CEO of apple” (courtesy of Joanne B. but not for “who is the ceo of microsoft” (too much Balmer/Gates confusion on 1st page)
World Leaders – “who is the president of the usa” and “who is the canadian priminister” but not “who is the prime minister of canada” (courtesy of Joanne B. as well)

{ 2 comments… read them below or join the discussion }

Nick May 26, 2011 at 12:51 pm

Really interesting – I can replicate this as well, but only for celebrity trivia and other useless facts, haha. It doesn’t seem very Google-y to call it “best guesses,” usually they’re more confident in their algorithm at finding the best results for a query. This must be very early testing…

Great post!

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Tim June 2, 2011 at 9:23 pm

Google have been including these kind of answers for a while, their guess is good a lot of the time. Sometimes though there is more than 1 answer to the same query, which changes depending on context. This could be problematic in future, but I am sure it will get better with time.

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