Not sure whether this is genius or tedious.

Today, Google has added a new way to stay updated on related topics, with the capacity to ‘follow’ a search topic, in order to then access regular updates of the latest related info.

Google Follow

As you can see in this example, now, you’ll see a new ‘Follow’ option within selected topical search listings, which you can tap on to get future updates.

As explained by Google:

“Let’s say you’re training for your first half marathon, and you’ve come to Search looking for tips on getting in better running shape. Tap the “Follow” button in search results and you’ll automatically see articles and videos about marathon training on Discover, the homepage of the Google app. From Discover, you can jump right to the search results page to see more new-to-you content and perspectives related to what you follow, like a video demonstrating a training exercise.

And if you have notifications turned on, Google will even send you critical updates to the topic, “like how to prepare for an upcoming race nearby”.

Which could be good, I guess.

I don’t know. I suspect that most people head to Google with definitive search intent, and less so to get ongoing updates on a pet topic.

It might also eat into regular website offerings, with most brand sites providing their own updates via e-mail sign-up or newsletters, etc. If Google’s just aggregating the latest info, that could mean that people have less impetus to sign up for such, depending on the topic, so it probably won’t be great for individual brand and site managers.

Google follow

Yeah, I don’t think I’m a fan, and I’m not sure that any web manager is going to be too happy about Google looking to steal more audience attention, given that Google already benefits from everyone else’s content.

Then again, maybe it will help to improve discovery, by showcasing a broader range of websites to interested users.

We’ll find out, with Google’s new topic option rolling out in the Google app in English in the U.S. over the coming weeks.  

On another front, Google’s also expanding its “Perspectives” filter to desktop Search, which showcases related social media and forum content within Search results.

Google Perspectives

As you can see in this example, Perspectives displays related user responses to specific questions, which adds a more human element to certain results.

Google’s also testing out a new “Notes” option, that will enable searchers to share tips and advice about web content, right on Search.

“We’ve seen in our research that people want peer validation and like to see what others are saying about a given web page. Notes gives people a helpful layer of human insights on each Search result, working hand in hand with existing content on the web and making it more useful.

That could provide additional perspective on displayed results, and help to guide users in their discovery behaviors.

Are these valuable additions to Search, or negative updates for sites? That’s the key question, and with Google referrals being fairly volatile this year, there’ll be a level of skepticism around the potential impacts of these updates.

Also, these elements are probably all being supplanted by generative AI search options anyway, so they could be obsolete even before they launch.

In summary, I don’t think these will be big additions, but they could have an impact either way.

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