Google Search is so ubiquitous and indispensable, the company's very name is used as a verb that describes the act. No actual human being "Bings" something, but we've all done a bit of "Googling" in our time. And though we might all still complain about specific results, it's become incredibly, almost unbelievably good at what it does. My own daily research for this very job would take a whole lot longer without it. Now Google is rolling out some changes to the About This Result feature that better describe precisely why you see what you do in a given search, exposing the machinations behind something we probably all take for granted.
The change builds on the About This Result feature, which rolled out earlier this year to better help you understand and vet information sources that appear in Search. At the time, it only showed you information about the linked site, pulling from things like Wikipedia and Google's own index to explain the provenance and history of the venue. But, starting today, it's expanding to show you a whole lot more information.
The new feature will explain if a given result was influenced by things like your current location, things you've looked at recently, and commonly related terms — or if it even just comes down to keywords. Often there's a lot more to it than that, but Search can reveal those sorts of details, so you better understand a given result's connection to your query. And, even better, this can give you the sort of feedback to get better at the act of Googling.
On top of explaining "why" you see what you do, the new details will also provide tips about improving your searches. Tap some of those explanations behind why results appeared if any of them didn't jibe with what you expected, and Google will explain how to modify your search to better control that aspect of it. That can be as simple as figuring out your language settings or as complicated as learning some of Google's super-powerful semi-hidden commands.
Google Search is a powerful but sometimes inscrutable tool, and changes like these can make its seemingly arcane abilities a little less mysterious — though probably nothing will ever entirely eliminate that suspicion that it's somehow spying on you when it results are simply too perfect. At least most of us have forgotten what it's like to go to the second page of results.