Google adds 'semantic search' to give you better answers

Google is getting smarter
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Google is set to shake up its search results by adding facts and direct answers to its usual list of ranked pages.

Using "semantic search" technology which allows for a better understanding of the true meaning of words, the company hopes to provide more relevant results.

Google search executive Amit Singhal said that the new system will be more like "how humans understand the world."

Search queries will be matched with a database of "entities" which includes people, places and things which Google has been building for the last two years.

This will likely be bolstered by Google's acquisition of Metaweb Technologies in 2010. The start-up had a 12 million-strong database of movies, books, companies and celebrities.

Just Semantics

Google isn't the first search engine to use this search functionality, as Microsoft Bing and Wolfram Alpha already answer direct questions and offer up reports instead of just page listings.

Search rankings are likely to be affected as Google may use semantic search tech to identify specific information contained within web pages, rather than relying on its PageRank algorithm which places more emphasis upon incoming links.

The change, which is due within months, looks to be part of Google's drive to get users spending more time in its ecosystem of products. Earlier this year it added Google+ results to its search results, though the success of that is debatable as compared to Facebook, Google+ is a ghost town.

From WSJ via The Verge