According to Google Watch, last week Google’s CEO, Eric Schmidt, was discussing an impressive $5.7 billion in sales during Q4 2009, another indicator that search marketing is still a viable advertising source in shaky economic conditions. During that talk he revealed an enticing forecast about Google increasing emphasis on semantic search technology:
“Wouldn’t it be nice if Google understood the meaning of your phrase rather than just the words that are in the phrase? We’ve made a lot of discoveries in that area that are going to roll out in the next little while.”
“Semantic search uses the science of meaning in language—instead of just searching keywords, it checks the context of the words to return more relevant results.”
As the amount of information available online increases, there is a need for more sophisticated methods of finding valuable data for any given query. This isn’t an entirely new concept – as Google matures it gets “smarter” with matching queries to relevant results as it constantly improves its algorithm, incorporating the beginnings of semantic technology. But Google isn’t alone. A search engine that has received some buzz about its semantic search beta test is Hakia, founded in 2004. The ‘About Us’ page contrasts Hakia against other portals:
“Today’s search engines bring popular results via statistical ranking methods but a popular Web site may not always be credible, and a credible Web site may not always be popular. As a result, searchers suffer in many ways ranging from wasted search time to using misleading information. Hakia’s semantic technology provides a new search experience that is focused on quality, not popularity. Hakia’s quality search results satisfy three criteria simultaneously: They (1) come from credible Web sites recommended by librarians, (2) represent the most recent information available, and (3) remain absolutely relevant to the query.”
Whether you call it the next evolution in search or Web 3.0, the age of semantic search is closer than you think. I predict that these new developments will have significant implications for paid search and search engine optimization strategies, and will undoubtedly lead the way to a better search engine user experience.