Google is significantly changing its search formula in a way that could have an impact on millions of websites, reported the Wall Street Journal. Rather than essentially searching for keywords, the company hopes to incorporate ‘semantic search’ to provide more relevant results, meaning more facts and direct answers to queries at the top of the search-results page, the WSJ said.
It is a process which will take years, the WSJ learnt from Amit Singhal, a Google search executive, but other sources said that some changes will show up sooner. As an example, the WSJ explained that:
“Under the shift, people who search for "Lake Tahoe" will see key "attributes" that the search engine knows about the lake, such as its location, altitude, average temperature or salt content. In contrast, those who search for "Lake Tahoe" today would get only links to the lake's visitor bureau website, its dedicated page on Wikipedia.com, and a link to a relevant map.”
Google will start to provide actual answers to questions, the paper said, both from its own database and from other websites, using the semantic search technology.
The new developments are intended to help Google maintain its lead over rivals such as Microsoft’s Bing and Apple’s Siri, the WSJ said, and to entice people to stay longer on the site.
More ‘intelligent’ search has already been explored by Wolfram Alpha, a search engine that went live in 2009 with the aim of making “all systematic knowledge immediately computable by anyone.” It is an impressive product but has not become mainstream. If anyone can take it mainstream, it's Google, which still claims about two-thirds of the search market.
What will this mean for news organisations? If Google can answer more queries directly, will this mean less traffic to news sites? Will they have to adapt their content if they hope to remain high in search results?
Google's latest change to its search engine was the introduction of 'Search, plus your world,' which incorporates results from its social network Google+ into users' search results.
Source: Wall Street Journal