Google announced yesterday that in the coming years the company will overhaul its search algorithm and results to incorporate “semantic search,” according to an article from the Wall Street Journal.
Using semantic search, a process aimed at determining the actual meaning of words, Google will change the top search results to display answers to search queries rather than links to websites. In doing so, Google would provide faster, real-time answers to search queries as opposed to providing the most valuable resource to find said answer at the top of the page.
This change will enable users to have better access to a “knowledge graph” of database information that connects different entities to one another; instead of different pages in the results, the information comes together in Google to form an answer, rather than just a list of resources. According to the article,
“If someone searched for an author like Ernest Hemingway, they might get detailed information about him at the top of the search results, including his date of birth and death, the best-selling books he wrote and where he lived, among other things. Google users might then be able to click to get more information about his books, such as ‘The Sun Also Rises’ or ‘A Farewell to Arms.’”
As the article states, Google is not currently advising webmasters in any direction. However, you can get a jump-start on following open standard semantic web practices with resources like the W3C Semantic Web and SemanticWeb.org.
However, other publications suggest that Google is constantly changing its algorithm, and that semantic search is nothing new, nor will it drastically alter search for users.
TechCrunch maintains that this announcement is merely a distraction from Google’s failing “Search Plus Your World” campaign, which favors Google+ updates over more qualified search results from webpages and social media sites:
“Bottom line here with the big, major, OMG GOOGLE SEARCH IS CHANGING news: Google Search is always changing. The company is constantly tweaking the signals it uses to rank webpages across the internet. Sometimes, enough of these signals are tweaked in a short enough period of time that Google gives the rollout of the new algorithms a name, like Google Panda, for example.”
What’s your take on the Google changes? Is it a pivotal moment for search or a distraction tactic?