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5/16/2012
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Google Knowledge Graph: How It Changes Search

What does Google's new search technique mean for you? Augmenting search results with sets of associated facts could please users but decrease traffic to other sites.

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Google has enhanced its search service to augment search results with sets of associated facts, an improvement that demonstrates greater understanding of queries.

Google calls this innovation a Knowledge Graph. Just as Facebook's social graph is a set of associated data about people and their friends, Google's knowledge graph is a set of associated data about a specific search query.

Previous search milestones like Search Plus Your World and Universal Search have focused on expanding the content that Google can present. Or they have emphasized search result delivery speed and input methods. Google's Knowledge Graph represents an attempt to make Google's search engine smarter.

[ The competition between Google and Microsoft continues. Read Microsoft Bing Friends Facebook. ]

What this means for users is that certain queries will generate a set of facts to be displayed in the right-hand sidebar panel, alongside the expected search results list. For example, a search for Marie Curie would return a Wikipedia summary of the famous scientist's life, dates of birth and death, the name of her spouse and children, elements she discovered, schools attended, and searches associated with her.

What this means for websites like Wikipedia could be less visitor traffic: A searcher looking for widely queried facts may find no reason to click on any of the Google search results links if his or her query has been answered on the Google search results page.

Google SVP of engineering Amit Singhal attributed the change to Google's growing understanding of what users deem to be relevant and a better sense of how facts are related.

"We've always believed that the perfect search engine should understand exactly what you mean and give you back exactly what you want," he explained in a blog post. "And we can now sometimes help answer your next question before you've asked it, because the facts we show are informed by what other people have searched for."

Some of Google's improved understanding comes from its 2010 acquisition of Metaweb's Freebase database. Google said when it bought the company that its goal was to better understand the relationships between real-world entities.

With its Knowledge Graph, Google becomes less of a search engine and more of an answer engine. It remains to be seen whether Google's answers dam the flow of curiosity that carries clicks and revenue downstream to other websites.

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beanstalkseo
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beanstalkseo,
User Rank: Apprentice
5/17/2012 | 5:28:35 PM
re: Google Knowledge Graph: How It Changes Search
I very much appreciated the inclusion of the following statement, "Augmenting search results with sets of associated facts could please users but decrease traffic to other sites."

This is something many many not consider but essentially it's a punishment of the most authoritative site. As a searcher I may well appreciate the quick info. After all, in the Twitter-like world we live in you've only got my attention for 3 seconds ... who has time to actually learn something - I want my data spoon-fed to me in snippits.

But one has to wonder, if we drop the traffic to the most authoritative sites and reduce their direct exposure (thus reducing their ability to generate revenue) how long with those sites last? Will we be slowly but surely limiting the information we have access to, the best reduced first? And what will become of us as a species if once more we succumb to convenience and look for our information in colorful 3 second bits instead of actually forcing ourselves to learn about what we're referencing?

Curious situation ... and I'll probably be one of the people who takes that graph and moves on to the next query. ;)
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