The boundaries between a search engine and content websites continue to blur as Google adds yet another ‘knowledge engine’ feature to its search engine functionality.
In our business we often need to find out the external (public) IP address of a router. Although it can be found in the router’s configuration pages, it has always been quicker to just do a web search – several popular websites can show your IP address just by visiting them.
However, that process has become even quicker because Google can now display your external IP address if you ask for it – just do a Google search on ‘ip’.
Your external IP address is instantly returned at the top of the search results – you don’t even have to search for ‘what is my ip address’ like you used to, just ‘IP’ by itself will do. This works on secure SSL Google searches too.
Search Engine or Knowledge Engine?
Wolfram Alpha is perhaps the best known knowledge engine – as they state: “SEARCH ENGINES index web pages, then look for textual matches, then give you lists of links. KNOWLEDGE ENGINES use built-in knowledge curated by human experts to compute on the fly a specific answer to every query.”
Google is a traditional search engine which is encroaching more on knowledge engine functionality. Displaying your IP address is the latest in a long line of additional search features like the calculator, unit conversion, currency conversion and world time – all performed by Google with the results displayed at the top of the page – before the list of websites that could also provide answers.
Tip: for a full list of these features (with examples) see Google’s popular search features here.
We like anything that saves us time when searching the web but we do kind of feel sorry for long established websites like IPchicken and WhatIsMyIP – having their primary function ‘usurped’ by Google must have been a mighty shock. Although those sites can provide additional information (e.g. your internet name and browser details) most people don’t need those extras so they will undoubtedly take a hit on visitor numbers.
Other websites with a single, non-copyrighted, niche function may well be looking over their shoulder tonight – and not just because it’s Halloween!