Posted April 5, 2010 2:05 pm by with 2 comments

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Google is starting to make some changes in search results that are designed to “cut to the chase” when a situation could be time sensitive. In a way, it is Google admitting that sometimes you need to dig quite a bit to find what you are looking for on the search engine. In some cases though it’s likely that a person may not have the time, or the desire, to look for the “right” answer so Google is helping them get information that in this case could save a life.

What Google has decided to do is to offer is a special search result when a search is focused on the term “suicide”. Here is the result I get when checking this out.

I added the highlighting but that may not be a bad idea for future consideration for Google. As it stands right now, any search that Google has deemed to be connected to someone researching suicide is given the result that has a large red phone by it and the number for the suicide prevention hotline.

The New York Times reports

This is only the second time Google has added such guidance on troubling search terms, Dr. Roni Zeiger, chief health strategist for Google, said in an interview. A few months ago, the search engine began providing a phone number for the national poison control hotline after searches like “poison emergency.”

Zeiger then goes on to say that it got Google thinking (when are they not thinking?). As a result this “service” is now being carried out on suicide related terms. This will not effect other organic results other than pushing them down the page a bit more.

It will be interesting where Google takes this concept. With some terms it is completely clear that offering a certain result will result in much more good than harm. Sure some people may complain that they don’t want to see this type of result but I suspect that will be a small minority of searchers.

So what do you think about Google’s efforts? What other terms might there be a good ‘standardized’ response to give all searchers? As long as there is no financial benefit to being put in that very prominent position this could help Google go a ways toward its “Do no evil” mission. Your thoughts?

  • I think that as the worlds most popular search engine Google does have a responsibility to protect people and this is just one example of them doing that. Don’t forget though that Yahoo and Bing among others do still get millions of visitors so it is not just Google who should be taking these steps.

  • Its very thoughtful for Google to provide this search but seriously I wouldn’t think people on in that kind of mood would still be reading the computer. If some really do, lets hope this would help them change their mind.