Google is now looking to answer search queries, much like Siri will answer your iPhone questions. Google’s “Search, plus Your World” is an attempt to personalize its user’s search results based on their Google+ activities.
Over the next few months, Google plans to add more value to its search results by providing direct answers to search queries, on top of the usual top 10 links to the most relevant web pages. The technology, known as semantic search, has already been incorporated in Google searches to some extent.
Search queries such as “capital of Australia” and “U.S. president,” or even grammatically incorrect phrases, like “time Kuala Lumpur,” yield direct answers to the questions posed. Sound like Siri? The Wall Street Journal says Google’s upcoming changes would empower the search engine with more sophisticated technology, capable of understanding more context and complex questions.
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.
For a more complex question such as, “What are the 10 largest lakes in California?” Google might provide the answer instead of just links to other sites.
At a glance, the change is beneficial for both users and Google. Users will be able to save more time and effort when they’re searching for direct answers, without having to skim and scan through the web pages suggested by Google. Google, on the other hand, would benefit by getting more love from its users.
Website owners may not be able to be that optimistic though. With Google spoon-feeding its users with information they’re looking for, there is less of a need for them to click-through the search results, which would translate to a decreased page views and revenues for some website owners.
Photo: Shawn Collins