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Google to become “more human”

by Ollie Vaughan | 17.05.2012

The Tug PPC team were at SMX on Wednesday to hear Amit Singhal, senior vice-president of engineering at Google, reveal that part of the search engines immediate plans were make Google more “human”. By this, he explained that Google and other search engines have only ever been able to understand words rather than context. “For example the search term ‘Taj Mahal’ could mean one of the world’s most beautiful monuments, or a Grammy Award-winning musician, or possibly even a casino in Atlantic City, NJ. Or, depending on when you last ate, the nearest Indian restaurant,”. Their plan, therefore, is to improve SERPs by creating algorithm that understands context not just words.

So true to his word, Singhal posted on the Google Blog the very next day the announcement of………drum roll please………”The Knowledge Graph”. Essentially factual information about certain types of information based search terms will now appear in a panel on the right hand side of the screen enabling users to find facts quick and efficiently rather than having to scroll through webpages for basic information. Google claims to have over 3.5 billion facts on over 500 million people, places and ‘real world’ objects, drawing information from sources such as Freebase, Wikipedia and CIA World Factbook, as well as its own databases.

When asked at SMX if this would cannibalise traffic from other websites, Singhal simply suggested a) by instantly answering these questions, users would have more time to search for more in depth information and b) websites would have to improve the quality and demand for the information that is on their websites.

Its interesting that this new feature has come only a week after Bing made a similar announcement that they would be displaying its “snapshot” column on the right hand side of the screen; used to display new link types e.g. social network updates.

The product will initially be launched in the US and will be rolled out to the rest of the world in due cause. Apparently the next step, said Singhal at SMX, will be to look at how Google can start to answer more complex questions like “What are the 10 deepest lakes in Africa?”