Will Smith set the country on fire last night with his actions at the Oscars. Without getting into the psychology of whether Will Smith is ok or the morality of what he did, let us all acknowledge it made everyone start Googling Will Smith this morning. It is a good example of how Google has to try to understand user intent with general search terms. If you are a search geek like me it is interesting to see how Google adapts to such things.

A Side Fishing Trip

A quick and more general side note. The other day the word pollock came up in discussion with some friends when I wasn’t there.  When I tried to join in the discussion someone mentioned that I would know what pollock is. I said “the artist or the fish?”. This is something that the Google algorithm has to deal with millions of times a day.  What does the user want? In our conversation, it was about the fish. If I knew the prior discussion before that, it would have been clear. Google has to figure that out.  Below are two screenshots of “pollock” searches that were done 5 minutes apart. The difference is that between the first and the second I also searched for “famous painters” and “American painters”. Once I came back to “pollock” Google had a better understanding. Instead of a knowledge panel about fish on the right, they give info about the painter.

pollock searches with intent


Back to Will Smith

Will Smith has been a famous actor and artist for at least forty years. There is a lot of information out there about him. When you look at the image at the top of this post, you see the results for a Will Smith search the morning after his “slapping” event at the Oscars. With celebrities who are constantly in the mainstream media, Google has to hedge its bets a bit. Despite me doing a similar experiment as with “pollock” and the big news coming out of last night, the Google results page was mostly the same, showing many different options to the user. The “slap” was definitely there in the news section. The news section is Google’s way to account for any wacky things that pop up. But having won the Oscar, there are also many people searching for movies he has been in, if he won the Oscar, who he is (though one of the pics at the top of his results page was not actually him). It is an interesting study in the layout of the search engine results page, and how Google adapts on the fly to your specific user cues as well as the general search world intent.  I would guess from the result page this morning, many more people are searching about the slap than his win, as the main news stories at the top are related to the Chris Rock incident. Keep on searching and if you want help getting to the top for your business, please give us a call.