Google Knowledge Graph: How did this happen?

Google goes one step further in attempt to become an intelligent search engine by introducing their knowledge graph results. “Search is a lot about discovery—the basic human need to learn and broaden your horizons.”, Google.
Knowledge Graph

Predictions for 2012

Earlier this year I predicted the three key improvements in Google’s algorithm will be improved spam detection, social graph and knowledge graph. Two of my other articles outline ways of knowledge graph integrating within the existing link graph and social graph theory. Finally, during presentation at SMX Sydney this year, I dropped in the concept of Google’s knowledge graph as the next big thing for enterprise SEO people.
One thing most of us did not expect was for this to happen so soon!

Larry PageGoogle’s First Announcement

Things, not strings!

One of the first public announcements on the next-generation Google search was made by Larry Page in the “2012 Update from the CEO” post on Google’s corporate blog:

“Understanding identity and relationships can also help us improve search. Today, most search results are generic, so two strangers sitting next to each other in a café will get very similar answers. Yet everyone’s life experiences are unique. We are all knowledgeable about different things; we have different interests and our preferences—for music, food, vacations, sports, movies, TV shows, and especially people—vary enormously.”

“Google+ helps solve this problem for us because it enables Google to understand people and their connections. So when I search for Ben Smith, I get the real Ben Smith (for me), right there in my search box, complete with his picture. Previously, the search box would just have had the series of letters I had typed, with no real understanding that I was looking for a unique person. This is a huge and important change, and there’s a ton more work to do.  But this kind of next-generation search in which Google understands real-world entities—things, not strings—will help improve our results in exciting new ways. It’s about building genuine knowledge into our search engine.”

Amit SinghalWe all knew Google was up to something since their acquisition of Freebase in 2010. Growth of their knowledge base from 12,000,000 to 200,000,000 nodes took place in a very short period of time hinting at the level of significance of the knowledge graph project to Google’s core product team. Amit Singhal explains more on Mashable and on his Google+ post:

“In 2010, we acquired Freebase, an open-source knowledge graph, and in the time since we’ve grown it from 12 million interconnected entities and attributes to over 200 million. Our vision for this knowledge graph is as a tool to aid the creation of more knowledge — an endless cycle of creativity and insight.”

Lance Ulanoff from Mashable has covered the latest update in a catchy headline calling Google “1000 times smarter“.

Early Predictions

One guy who saw everything years ahead of everyone else was of course Bill Slawski who first reviewed one of the related Google patents back in August 2010. Today he points us at more related articles:

Not Brands but Entities: The Influence of Named Entities on Google and Yahoo Search Results

Google Gets Smarter with Named Entities: Acquires MetaWeb
How a Search Engine Might Add Related Information about People, Places, and Things into Search Results
Google on Using a Knowledge Base of Articles to Make Searches Smarter
Google on Multi-Tiered Indexing and Multi-Staged Query Processing

Premature Feature? No way!

Since their recent operational and product trim Google seems to be in an unstoppable roll-out of new features and improvements, more or less ad-hoc style, A/B testing things and trying stuff out. This shows that their new spirit of a starup company is not all about chasing Facebook’s tail but goes deeper into fundamental ways of how Google’s product development and deployment works. Good for you Larry Page.
Knowledge Graph Example

First Glimpses

In early May, Bas van den Beld from State of Search started noticing the first signs of knowledge graph in action and later that day we collaboratively performed and published a study on various query types which seems to be triggering Google’s answer style results above the usual ten organic results. Our favorite example is “how old is Jesus“.
How old is Jesus?

Knowledge Graph: Right Now

Inside Search (Google) talks more about the upcoming changes with Google’s search results and gives some nice examples of where these can be seen as useful for users:
Knowledge Graph Results
To find out more how and when the new search results may appear we recommend this article by Google.

Google Research Tool

Google research tool has quietly entered Google Docs and now gives users an option of researching facts while writing. When writing a new document Google will now display the research pane which contains a search bar and series of organic results. One handy feature we spotted was the ability to quickly link to quickly preview relevant results, link to them or include properly formatted citations within your article. Quite a time saver.
Google Research Tool
For now, the functionality of the research tool is limited to organic results including image results, but we anticipate to see Google’s knowledge graph data in there soon as well as support for more localities.

Google Knowledge Graph Video


Dan Petrovic, the managing director of DEJAN, is Australia’s best-known name in the field of search engine optimisation. Dan is a web author, innovator and a highly regarded search industry event speaker.

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