The Battle of Major Search Engine Updates Part 2: Google Goes Semantic
Posted by: Alex Peerenboom
While Google has been making significant changes over the last year and a half, starting with the introduction of Google+ and more recently with the major algorithm changes in the name of Panda and Penguin, the search giant has been quietly building up to what could be an even more fundamental shift in the way we view search engines and the Internet in general. After being hinted at back in March, Google has finally launched its version of semantic search – dubbed the Knowledge Graph.
Until this week when you typed in something ambiguous, let’s say “kings”, Google didn’t know if you were looking for the Sacramento Kings NBA team, the LA Kings NHL team, or the TV show “Kings.” Google could only make the best educated guess for its search results based off your past Internet activity and location. Now, Google will understand the difference between the three with the Knowledge Graph. How does it know?
Over the years, Google has built a massive database of information through several sources – its purchase of Freebase, Wikipedia, Google products (Places, Maps, Books, etc), and publicly available data. This database is more than another index of text on web-pages. Google has built up information on more than 500 million people, places and things and 3.5 billions attributes associated with those things. Google has also used this database to understand the relationship and connection between them. So what does Knowledge Graph do?
- First, it helps you find exactly what you’re looking for. Now type “kings” and a panel on the right-hand side of the results will ask you if you are searching for the NBA team, the NHL team, or the TV show. Click one of those and it will alter the search results to your selection.
- Next, it provides a better summary of your search query. Search for “Muhammad Ali” and the same panel will bring up a brief snippet from Wikipedia, birthday, birthplace and more (all from its database). It also provides additional information based off what else people have searched for, which would be other boxers in this case.
- Finally, the additional information its provides allows you do dig deeper. For Ali, the summary shows you the children he has. Click on the link to Laila Ali to learn more about her.
- What’s great too is that if Google gets something wrong, users can report the error right below the summary panel. Google will continue to learn and evolve, providing more accurate information in the process.
Google’s Knowledge Graph will be rolling out to US English users on desktop, mobile, and tablet. With all the negativity surrounding Google+, do you see this as a positive step for Google? How have you liked Knowledge Graph results so far?