Google is reportedly about to make one of the biggest changes in its search history by incorporating “semantics” to better understand what words mean.
“The changes to search are among the biggest in the company's history and could affect millions of Web sites that rely on Google's current page-ranking results,” The Wall Street Journal reports. “At the same time, they could give Google more ways to serve up advertisements.”
“Under [the new] system, search queries are run through a vast knowledge database that discovers relationships with other words and facts,” Engadget explains.
If one searches for "Lake Tahoe,” for example, they won't just get ranked Web sites containing those two words but also key attributes about the lake, such as its location, altitude, and average temperature.
“The move, starting over the next few months, will impact the way people can use the search engine as well as how the search engine examines sites across the Web before ranking them in search results,” suggests The New York Times.
Search expert Danny Sullivan, meanwhile, is scratching his over the news. “Google’s arguably been doing semantic search since 2003, when it began searching for synonyms of the words actually entered,” Sullivan writes in Search Engine Land.
New or not, “the redesigned search could have further consequences regarding advertising and page ranking,” writes 9to5Google. In an example of things to come, “The search engine recently began placing its new flight-search service above general results for travel-related topics. The intentional move made the firm’s flight tool appear prominently above other online travel businesses’ results, including Expedia Inc., Orbitz Worldwide Inc., and Priceline.com Inc.”
Google is basically building an infrastructure layer or a knowledge graph that would underlie many aspects of Google, a spokesperson for the search giant told CNet. “The idea is to make more possibilities with search using these entities,” CNet writes.
As The Verge notes: “Providing direct answers instead of links out to other pages would also fit in with Google’s newest strategy of attempting to keep users engaged in its own properties -- like Google+ -- theoretically giving the company another way to sell itself to advertisers.”