By now, we know that Google uses LSI (Latent Semantic Indexing) to show related results on the SERPs, but the algorithm needs further improvement if the Knowledge Graph is to provide accurate and relevant information for all searches. In fact, bizarre things happen when we search for celebrity spouses.
1. Google Gives Oprah a Wife (and a Husband. And a Partner. And a Spouse).
Google doesn’t always know the difference between “wife”, “husband”, “partner”, and “spouse”. Searches for “oprah wife”, “oprah husband”, “oprah partner”, “oprah spouse”, and “oprah married” give the same results on the Knowledge Graph:
We ran searches for many famous names and found the same concurrence: Nicole Kidman, Tom Cruise, Demi Moore, Prince Charles, Ben Affleck, the list goes on. People who, unlike Oprah, are currently married do not get a result for “partner”.
2. Google Can’t Handle Love Triangles.
A search for “jennifer aniston wife” brings identical results as “jennifer aniston husband” and “jennifer aniston partner”, and shows her current fiancee Justin Theroux:
However, searches for “jennifer aniston spouse” and “jennifer aniston married” show Brad Pitt:
Interestingly, Jennifer Aniston is not currently married to either Pitt or Theroux. Is this a flaw in the semantic indexing algorithm, or did Google get confused by all the drama?
3. The Rosie Anomaly.
While investigating the difference between “wife”, “husband”, “partner”, and “spouse”, we tested the rule on people known by a single name: Oprah, Ice-T, Cher, Ellen. It all seemed to work fine… until we found the Rosie anomaly.
For those of you wondering who Rosie is, Google has a very clear answer:
When we search for “rosie wife”, we are given her current wife, and also her previous one:
But a search for “rosie husband” throws out a strange result:
Google deems relatively unknown British actress Rosie Huntington-Whiteley, who happens to be married to Jason Statham, to be more relevant than Rosie O’Donnell’s wives for the “rosie wife” query. The “Rosie Anomaly” shows that the Knowledge Graph can distinguish between husband and wife, albeit in a (seemingly) random fashion.
4. Google Likes Lead Singers.
The Knowledge Graph is implemented for all searches concerning famous figures, but Google has its own ideas about who deserves to be famous. This is what happens when you search for a band name + “husband”, “wife”, “married” or “spouse”:
Other than to U2, Coldplay, and the Rolling Stones, the rule applies to bands like Nirvana, Oasis, Pink Floyd, and Pearl Jam. The lead singer always wins… unless Google refuses to take sides.