Just yesterday Google began what is arguably their most interesting project to date—the Knowledge Graph. This new function is designed to help the algorithms of the site seem “more human” according to Google’s principal engineer Matt Cutts. The Knowledge Graph will soon be available to U.S. English users, but will surely expand to other languages and countries in the near future. According to TechCruch, Google has actually been working on this project for a few years, and the Knowledge Graph will hold about 500 million people, places, and things, and index over 3.5 billion characteristics and connections involving all of these items.
Over the next few weeks Google users will start seeing the Knowledge Graph on the bottom right hand side of the screen. Although this might be a bit overwhelming at first, I actually find it to be a very cool idea once you understand how it works and why it was created.
Top 3 Ways the Knowledge Graph Will Improve User Experience
Google has always put a huge emphasis on content and the importance of quality content for users, so this new feature is designed to do a few different things:
- Summary – The graph offers basic quality information quickly. The new graph will pull up a summary of the topic you’re searching including the history and other key facts. Google bases the information that appears in these summaries on what people have typically wanted to know about that topic in the past. For example, most people want to hear about David Hasselhoff in and his Baywatch days, not his singing career, so his time spent acting on the beach is what shows up in the summaries.
- Reduced Ambiguity – Cut down on ambiguity of search inquiries. For example, when I type the word “hawks” into the search box Google brings up results for the Chicago Balckhawks, the Atlanta Hawks, and the many different types of the actual animal.
- Relationships – Graphs inherently show how things are connected. The knowledge graph will help users see all aspects of their search, including things that are connected with that search that many didn’t even realize existed.
These improvements were described by Amit Singhal, the Senior Vice President of engineering for Google, as the next generation of search—the collective intelligence of the Web. Search was always supposed to be about gaining knowledge on a particular topic, and what better way to do that than to see everything that is connected with that subject and then see how it fits together?
How the Knowledge Graph Will Change Google Search Results
Naturally this new feature has left many websites wondering what will happen in terms of search engine ranking. At this point, speculation seems to be all we have. The graph will likely help drive traffic to more appropriate sites now that the ambiguity of search has lessened, but it wouldn’t be surprising if information sites such as Wikipedia and About.com saw a decline in traffic.
Google did admit that the Knowledge Graph is still not sophisticated enough to understand all natural language. For example, if someone were to ask, “What are the top 10 coolest places to visit in Europe” the Knowledge Graph would have a tough time answering. For this reason, many are expecting that search results won’t change too drastically. If your site focuses on basic information, you may have a bit of trouble; if your site offers detailed and specific content, this Knowledge Graph should be nothing more than a cool new feature. Only time will tell.
What are your views on the Knowledge Graph? Do you think that it will negatively affect the search world for small businesses? Let us know in the comments!