Finally, A Useful Google Search Update!

Posted by · May 16, 2012 3:42 pm

First it was Google’s now infamous Panda update, then Panda 2.0, Panda 3.0 and most recently the Penguin algorithm update; and somewhere in between all of those search algorithm updates, Google gave us “Search Plus Your World”, which preferences content on the company’s own sites (ahem, Google +) over other (more popular) social sites.  All of Google’s recent updates have been hotly contested by both SEO gurus and every day, average Google users: Are these updates improving Google’s search algorithm or making it worse?

Obviously undeterred by those speaking out against them (And why should they be? They’re still better than Bing.), the Google search team announced yet another update to their search results pages today with the Google Knowledge Graph.  Unlike previous search updates, however, the Google Knowledge Graph actually seems useful.  Here are three reasons the Google Knowledge Graph is Google’s best search update yet:

1.)    Filter Google search results faster

Instead of seeing a simple page of search results that may or may not be related to your query, the Google Knowledge Graph cuts through our often ambiguous searches and returns a separate box of results (which appear on the right side of the search engine results page) that accounts for many different possible meanings behind our queries. For instance, if you search for the term “beetle” you could be referring to the actual insect or you could want to know more about the Volkswagon.  The Google Knowledge Graph will ask you which “beetle” you were referring to and then allow you to browse results based on your choice.

2.)    Get answers, not links

Ok, technically you’re still going to get links, but if you perform a search for a specific person, let’s say Marie Curie (cause that’s the example Google uses), you will see a summary of the best information about that person on the right side of the Google search results page.  For instance, for Marie Curie, you will see her birthday, date of death, information about her nobel prizes, family, etc.  Wondering how Google knows what the “best” information is? The search team studies what users are typically searching for and clicking on about a particular person, place or thing and compiles the summary information based on the aggregate.  So theoretically, the Google Knowledge Graph may be able to tell you what you wanted to know about Marie Curie without you ever needing to click on a single link.

3.)    Learn something new

If you think you get lost down the rabbit hole that is the Internet now, just wait until the Google Knowledge Graph launches (it’s rolling out to all English speaking languages over the next few weeks).  The information you’ll discover about the people, places or things you Google will probably spawn a whole new list of searches you’ll want to make.  The good news is, however, that the Google Knowledge Graph may be able to anticipate your next search.

“We’ve always believed that the perfect search engine should understand exactly what you mean and give you back exactly what you want,” Google’s SVP of Engineering Amit Singhal said in a blog post earlier today. “And we can now sometimes help answer your next question before you’ve asked it, because the facts we show are informed by what other people have searched for. For example, the information we show for Tom Cruise answers 37 percent of next queries that people ask about him.”

According to Singhal, the Google Knowledge Graph currently contains more than 500 million objects and 3.5 billion facts about and relationships between different objects. So, while it won’t show up for every single search you perform, you’re likely to see if more often than not.

As previously mentioned, Google Knowledge Graph will be rolling out over the next few weeks, so the jury of user opinion is still out.  I, however, am willing to go ahead and say that this is one Google search update I won’t be complaining about…except maybe in regards to all the time I’ll waste using it.

While you’re waiting for the Google Knowledge Graph to reach you, check out Google’s official video about the update.