In the upcoming months, Google's web search will no longer just spit out a list of web links that match your query. It will start to present facts and direct answers at the top of the results page. These changes are among the biggest that the search giant have ever undergone and are a result of trying to keep a dominant market-share.
While Google isn't replacing its current keyword-search system, they are aiming to provide more relevant results by incorporating technology called "semantic search". Semantic search is the technology related to attempting to understand the meaning of the words themselves and provide relevant results. Over the past two years, Google has been quietly amassing a database of hundreds of millions of entities-people, places and things-which can provide data matched to queries.
After these updates, a Google query for "Lake Tahoe" would result in a listing of key attributes, such as its location, altitude, average temperature or salt content, above the usual listing of links based upon the old keyword search algorithm. When a more complex question is provided, Google may provide just an answer, rather than links to other sites. An example query would look something like, "What are the 10 largest lakes in California?" This query would likely return the answer, rather than links to other sites.
If an answer doesn't exist in Google's ever-expanding database, the search giant will blend new semantic-search technology with its current system in order to recognize the value of information instead of just picking out keywords. This way future queries could be answered by Google, rather than the old system of just providing links to websites containing the keywords. This new search system could allow someone to search for a favorite author, such as "Agatha Christie," and have the search return a list of her books which could also have related authors and books on the page.
These updates have implications on advertising, as well, which could result in better targeted ads since Google has a better understanding of the query presented by the user. While the advertising team and search team are completely separate, the advertising team is looking for ways to capitalize on the new system.