March 25, 2009
Google Oils Engine With Semantic Search
By Jack M. Germain | TechNewsWorld.com
Google has adjusted the way its search engine interprets the words users input into its search bar as well as the way it displays results. The new technology attempts to better understand broad search terms and deliver more relevant links.
Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) More about Google on Tuesday rolled out two enhancements to its search engine that could pave the way for a shift toward more integrated real-time search results. The new technology introduces new algorithms that draw from semantic relevance of search terms. The first enhancement expands the list of useful related searches. The second enhancement lengthens search result descriptions, called "snippets." Both new offerings are designed to help guide users more effectively to the information they need. "These changes are highly significant for people who don't find what they want in a search. We've been observing searching behavior and found that many users get poor search results because of the search words they use," Ori Allon, technical lead for the search quality team at Google, told TechNewsWorld.
Up until now, Google could not help users whose keyword selections were too broad, yielding them poor results, said Allon. Their search words were not optimized. The new technology tries to interpret the search terms. Making the snippets longer will help people find more quickly the information they are looking for, Allon said. "If a query has three or four words, it is hard to describe the results. We saw this as a better way to describe the results," he explained.
How It Works
The new technology is based on algorithms Allon developed before coming to Google in 2006. Instead of using search histories that Google tracks, this new approach is strictly algorithm based and is automated and scalable. The new features, which are based on proprietary software, support 37 languages. The new method allows Google to quickly search in real time after considering the semantic significance of the search terms users enter. The algorithms apply associations and concepts related to the search terms. This first new application within Google Search offers more useful related searches in the terms placed at the bottom and top of the search results page, according to Allon. It can focus more accurately on queries and provide suggestions that are more relevant. The technology analyzes Web page content related to the query and determines the relevance of people, places or concepts to the query. The process only needs fractions of seconds.
More Than Semantic
Google's new technology is not solely based on advanced semantic methodologies, noted Allon. That goal may be reached in the future. But semantic characteristics are just one part of this new technology. The most popular search method is still based on keyword search principles. Its results are highly dependent on how pinpointed users make their keywords. Often, useful information is buried among thousands of hits that never get looked at in detail. Google plans to integrate more features related to this new searching technology, but Allon declined to provide details or a time line.
Google's market share continues to increase because the company is able to stay on the cutting edge with its technology, noted Scott Testa, professor of marketing at St. Joseph's University. "The idea is, by having semantic results the user experience will improve. People will better find what they are looking for," Testa told TechNewsWorld. "The bottom line is that Google generates so much cash from searches. By offering this enhancement, Google will stay in the lead."
The enhancements are very significant from a search engine perspective, said Heather Lutze, the founder of search engine marketing firm Lutze Consulting. Google is providing clean results based on surrounding words. The technology is looking for commonality among search terms, she said. "The search results will be higher value because they will filter out the junk. The result is trying to get people to care about their user experience," Lutze told TechNewsWorld. The new Google search enhancements signal a step toward the future of search, and it will dramatically challenge Microsoft (Nasdaq: MSFT) More about Microsoft and Yahoo (Nasdaq: YHOO) More about Yahoo, added Kelly Cutler, CEO of Chicago-based Marcel Media. "Google's semantic search will lead to more relevant results. It makes search smarter, understanding associations and concepts related to search terms so that a user can search with words typically used in conversations. It will eliminate low quality page links and Web sites from search," Cutler told TechNewsWorld.
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