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Another step on the road to a better search: Google Knowledge Graph

For librarians logoWith little noticeable fanfare, Google recently made a change to its interface that has important implications for anyone with online content. Now when you search using Google, it looks at the terms in your search and identifies the things in it. Based on previous searches on your topic, the Google search engine may offer a new box with a collection of “See results about” links alongside your search. This is Google’s “Knowledge Graph.” I say “may offer” because a search on Edinburgh, UK, results in a knowledge graph (KG) that looks like a Wikpedia entry, with information on population, area, weather, a map and links to four well-known “Points of interest.” Yet the same search on “automobile” or “librarian” did not generate any “See results about” content. Google is not yet clear what information about these things you want. Add an adjective or additional descriptive term, such as “antique,” and you get a side box on “Antique Automobile Club.”

Here is Google’s video describing this new service:

While Google does not share its trade secrets, the ReadWriteWeb blog reports that, in part, this system relies on Freebase, “a structured database of semantic information. It maps synonyms to help Google understand the meaning of words.” It also incorporates content from Wikipedia, Google Books and the World CIA Factbook [1], which means it is seeking to be more authoritative. This has implications for online content providers. As the EverSparkInteractive blog notes:

Because Google is providing this information to users, you can bet your bottom dollar the search engine will expect the sites it top ranks to provide information like this. So, when you are writing content for your website, remember to include verifiable facts. [2]

While libraries specialize in providing authoritative content via free and subscription databases and other resources, will Google’s new approach recognize this and increase their visibility? Librarians wear many hats, and it can be quite easy to slap up web content without proper metadata, let alone add important links “above the fold.” The structure and organization of information on a library’s website — its information architecture — may or may not be carefully planned and executed. How will this affect its ranking by Google now?

Have you used the new KG? Have you found it helpful? Tell us!

Reference:

1.         Mitchell, J., Google Goes Back to What It Does Well: Finding Things. ReadWriteWeb, 2012. 2012(May 29): p. Online article or blog post about changs to Google’s search interface, and the addition of the Knowledge Graph, with Wikpedia-like content.

2.         Baumwell, A., Google Knowledge Graph: Will It Change the Face of Search? EverSparkInteractive, 2012. 2012(May 29): p. Online article or blog post about changs to Google’s search interface, and the addition of the Knowledge Graph, with Wikpedia-like content.

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