To understand how semantics work, in search, it’s important to understand how Google has always worked. In the very early days of search the approach adopted by Google was radically different than anyone else before them. Moving away from the human factor the idea was that cyberspace possessed a form of self-knowledge, inherent in the links that led from one page to another, and that a search engine could exploit this knowledge.
Google’s founders visualized the Internet as a graph, with nodes and links: by early 1998, 150 million nodes joined by almost 2 billion links. They considered each link as an expression of value—a recommendation. And they recognized that all links are not equal. They invented a recursive way of reckoning value: the rank of a page depends on the value of its incoming links; the value of a link depends on the rank of its containing page. Not only did they invent it, they published it. Letting the Internet know how Google worked did not hurt Google’s ability to leverage the Internet’s knowledge.
Critical to the success of this approach, which would lead, slowly but steadily, to the semantic search of today, was the notion that data, once mapped, becomes a signal that has additional meaning which can lead to inferences. A million high-quality, relevant sites linking to a single site meant something at many different levels: relevance of content, authority, trust. The words that have become the mantra of semantic search.
Google’s Hummingbird update (http://goo.gl/PjJdok) is a clear indication that semantic search is scaling much faster than anticipated. Because of that scaling images in search now have acquired fresh importance for marketers and webmasters, alike (http://goo.gl/hmJfa6).
The point is, this has been a long journey for Google and it is now accelerating. For us, active on the web, understanding how this works is important. Now to put it to proper use.
Have a great Thursday and if you get the chance join me and in a HOA (http://goo.gl/mtpK3Q) that looks at some of the implications of semantic search.
Image used below courtesy of semantic analysis tool.
- InnovecomDirector, 1999 - present
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