Search giant Google has started to show zero results on mobiles searches again for queries and questions it believes it definitely knows the answer to, and can respond to without bringing up results for other sites.
The feature is currently limited to queries relating to the time in specific locations (such as ‘time in Paris’), mathematic calculations and searches for conversions. It is showing these specifically as it can solve these search queries fully. Furthermore, underneath this zero result is a link to show the full results page as it would normally do on a desktop search.
Google hasn’t been doing this for all searches though. An article in Search Engine Land highlights that Google will anticipate when the searcher may want to get the full set of results, and will show the full list by default.
One example Search Engine Land uses is ‘time in New York’. While the zero result shows the time in New York City, it doesn’t provide this as the only result, in case the user has entered this as a query to find American publication the New York Times.
This feature was originally tested earlier this year, back in March. However, it was later recalled. Google tested showing no results in the search results, but many people who were seeing this expressed that they were unhappy with the test, leading the search giant to halt the test altogether after just a couple of days, stating that it would reconsider these efforts.
Feedback suggested that when Google did show a zero result, it led to some brands not being shown in searches for their own name. Furthermore, it also stopped relevant companies from appearing. Search Engine Land used the example of dating sites not appearing for a search query such as ‘date in London’ when that would be a search potential users may conduct to find a particular dating site.
There were many other examples of this that Google has tried to address before rolling out the feature to the public once more. However, it has been pointed out that the date search query still leads to the search engine returning the calendar date, not a link to a site helping someone to find a date.
This would have an impact on sites that provide time conversions, help with mathematic questions or provide a list of measurement conversions, because Google won’t show these sites in the search results unless users decide to click on the ‘Show all results’ button and create an extra step for themselves. It could also create a problem for these companies, as traffic could possibly decrease.
Google did provide a statement with the rollout of the feature, stating that its goal is to help people find the most relevant information in the quickest way possible. Where the company is confident that the user is seeking the time in a location or a calculation, it will load the single result to improve the loading time on mobile devices.