Google may be trying to reinvent the way we search in the future and expanding access to its impressive multisearch feature, but perhaps one of its most exciting announcements from today is a feature it’s calling “discussions and forums.” The idea is simple: whenever you do a Google search that it thinks could be an open-ended question, it’ll pop up a box full of results from “a variety of popular forums and online discussions across the web.” An example in its blog post shows results from Reddit, Quora, and Edmunds showing up when the user searches “best car for big family.”
It’s more or less a meme at this point that you have to add “reddit” to a search if you want to find actually useful results instead of a page full of ads and seemingly AI-generated SEO-hack articles; the Brave browser even basically built this feature into its search page earlier this year. The company actually more or less admits that it noticed people doing this in its blog post, saying: “we’ve heard from you that you want to see more of this content in Search, so we’ve been exploring new ways to make it easier to find.”
The company also says that the feature is a good way to get “first-hand advice, and to learn from people who have experience with something you’re interested in.” Personally, it’s nice to hear this reasoning. There are plenty of searches where you’re not looking for a definitive answer but for a range of opinions. And while I often add “reddit” to my searches, it’d be nice to see them on the same page as articles from professional reviewers.
It is always possible that you’ll have to scroll a little bit to find the discussions and forums box — Google’s example leaves a blank section where ads or sponsored results could very well live. But it definitely feels like there’s a path back to some of the effortlessness it had years ago when top results still included unoptimized webpages and forums just because they happened to match what you were looking for. (You know, before those things were replaced by social media and Reddit as a main source of information, and SEO-optimized spam text meant every recipe has to begin with a 1,000-word essay and backstory.)
Google says the discussions and forums will be rolling out in the US today for English searches and that it “may update it in the future as we learn what’s most useful for people.”