Google Goes Gaga Over London 2012 Olympics

The Olympics are now well under way with medals flying out left, right and centre and it can be hard to keep track of where they’re going. Step in Google with their customised search results using the recently unveiled Knowledge Graph. It also looks like we’re going to be treated to a daily Olympics themed Google doodle as well!

Google Olympics Doodles

Search for ‘Olympics’ in Google and you will be treated to special results full of data mined from various sources.

I’m only going to talk about Google in this post because Bing’s isn’t quite up to scratch – much like other efforts such as the Social Sidebar. They seem to just miss what people want!

We’ve already seen Google play around with certain searches using the Knowledge Graph – showing Google+ information, Wiki snippets, Flights details, local info and more but this is one of the biggest, coolest and most in-depth search overlay yet. It seems social media is as important for Google as ever, so Social Media Marketing should be just as important as SEO for you!

Here’s the SERP for ‘Olympics‘: 

Google Olympics Knowledge Graph

The organic results are roughly what you would expect for this kind of search – latest news, official website, tickets and Twitter feed. However, it’s the Knowledge Graph box on the right that really grabs attention.

google olympics search overlay

Unlike the usual Google+, Wikipedia or Google+ Local overlay, Google has mined data from various sources (mainly the official site) to produce a mini web app giving you a wealth of information about the London 2012. Let’s dig a little deeper and see what they’re showing:

london 2012 olympic games google

The first part of the Knowledge Graph overlay provides the most basic information – official name, logo, site link and blurb taken from Wikipedia along with the event dates as well as which day of the competition we’re currently on. My favourite bit here is the ‘Watch Online’ links which take you directly to each broadcaster’s live feeds.

google olympics watch online

Google’s Knowledge Graph comes much criticism for mining information from websites and so stealing their traffic. In this instance, they’re actually manually directing you to what they think are the most relevant resources on the web for the query ‘Olympics’ – the official site, broadcaster feeds and the Wikipedia bio. I think that’s a step forward for search – links to official and high quality related sites rather than spammy affiliates and low quality news aggregators doing aggressive SEO.

Next we have the medal count. Cool thing about this? Depending on your location, Google always shows your country compared to those above you. Currently, we’re not doing too well… come on Team GB!


Clicking on a country takes you to a new search – for example ‘London 2012 United Kingdom’ with a bio of that country and a breakdown of their medals, schedule of events and most recent post from Google+ (if that country has a page):


Back to the main London 2012 Knowledge Graph app and the next feature is the schedule, showing the day’s events by default, with the option to see past and future dates.


This can be further broken down by discipline, with some sports showing even more detailed information about qualifying and heats:


The final snippet of information is the latest post from Google+ for your country’s team:


It’s very rare that Google makes a change these days that doesn’t involve Google+ somehow so this final addition isn’t surprising.

Google are always looking to drive people not only to sign up to but to engage with their social network, so pushing you to subscribe to updates from your Olympics team is a good way to encourage this.

Google’s Knowledge Graph Experiment

It’s interesting to see these little experiments from Google, especially as they are manual at the moment. Usually people don’t like it when Google makes changes that promote content that doesn’t appear naturally or algorithmically.

Going forward, we might see more of these queries where Google decides they know what’s best for searchers. Do you think that’s right? Or should they stick to trusting their algorithm?

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