May 16, 2012, 4:48 PM

Google’s new search feature aims to increase relevancy

The ‘Knowledge Graph’ also works on mobile devices and tablets.

Lead Photo

Google Inc. today unveiled a search feature designed to get consumers more quickly to the information they seek by serving information the search engine, based on the behavior of other searchers, predicts the consumer is ultimately looking for.

The feature, called Knowledge Graph, offers consumers options along the right side of the page that reflect variations of search terms. For instance, a consumer searching for “Taj Mahal” might be looking for the monument in India, the blues musician or a business that operates under that name. Consumers would see options for all those along the right-hand side of the search results page—roughly where Google Map depictions for search results go—along with links for popular searches associated with the term; in this case, that would include such things as “Agra Fort” or “Great Wall of China,” according to an example provided by Google.

The Knowledge Graph section also may include a Wikipedia-like summary about the search term, such as biographical information for French-Polish scientist Marie Curie, along with links to, say, her spouse, her research areas and fellow scientists. That, in turn, also could lead searchers to discover what Google calls “the relationship between things.”

Other search results appear as they normally do along the left-hand side of the page.

“The Knowledge Graph enables you to search for things, people or places that Google knows about—landmarks, celebrities, cities, sports teams, buildings, geographical features, movies, celestial objects, works of art and more—and instantly get information that’s relevant to your query,” writes Amit Singhal, Google senior vice president of  engineering, in a blog post today. “This is a critical first step towards building the next generation of search, which taps into the collective intelligence of the web and understands the world a bit more like people do.”

Google says the new feature is based on its analysis of what its users ask about particular items, with results tailored around its findings. “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,” Singhal writes. “For example, the information we show for Tom Cruise answers 37 percent of next queries that people ask about him.”

Singhal didn’t explain what, if any, affect the new feature would have on retailers’ paid search and search engine optimization strategies; inquiries to Google were not immediately returned. Google says the new feature can draw from 3.5 billion facts about 500 million objects.

The impact to retailers for now seems minimal. “If there are retailers that specialize in selling first edition books or renaissance paintings, there might be a connection made in Google Knowledge Graph results,” says PJ Fusco, director of SEO services at digital marketing provider Covario Inc. “While it’s challenging to consider all the potential cross references that could be made between retailers and different data points in time, Google certainly is making discovering these potential intersections highly alluring for searchers.”

Google says it is rolling out the new search features for English-language searches in the United States and to mobile and tablet search users.

At the Internet Retailer Conference & Exhibition 2012, April Anderson, industry director, retail, at Google, will speak in a session entitled, “Paid search strategies for the smaller merchant.

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