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Google has been playing around a lot with its formula over recent years with Google Plus Your World, with the Panda update, with changes to the emphasis it places on brands and more. However all of these changes could be seen by a skeptic as mere ‘tinkering’. These are bold new directions for Google, but rather the odd couple of changes here and there.

Now though Google is making a change that the Wall Street Journal said were among ‘the biggest in the company’s history’, and which Amit Singhal (a high up Google Search executive) described as the ‘next generation of search’.

‘The Next Generation of Search’

The idea all revolves around what Google is calling ‘semantic search’. Here search results are aimed at looking at context and meaning rather than just single words. Keywords and phrases are still going to be used, but now they will be used in conjunction with a huge database of ‘entities’. These entities cover millions of people, places and things and their relation to one another, and this is then going to be used to come up with facts, and answers to questions. That means first of all that you aren’t just going to see links, but also information placed on Google itself sourced from the web – if you search for a region you might be told about the location, population, size, recent news etc as well as a list of relevant websites.

To do this Google will be drawing on the work of the start-up ‘Metaweb Technologies’ which was acquired recently by Google and had an index of 12 million entities; as well as information they have been amassing themselves through the use of search (Wikipedia which seems oracle-like in its knowledge only has 3.5 million recognized terms). It will also be enhancing the power of algorithms to learn not only which websites to show, but also what content on which websites to use to answer questions.

As well as listing facts we might also see other on-page content. For instance search for an author and you might find a list of books and short reviews. And with all this we might also see some changes in the design and layout of the new search.

The Repercussions

For people searching this might be helpful and save time, but it is also likely to be sometimes inaccurate unless Google pulls off a miracle. However good the algorithms are, they will still be based on sites like Wikipedia and pages made by 10 year olds which are sometimes wrong. Most of us will still want to compare a few sites to come to our own conclusion.

Further, this is unlikely to affect sites that deliver editorial content, reviews, opinion or other more in-depth content. However for those of us who have websites containing straightforward facts it may mean that more people get what they want directly from Google and decide not to bother clicking links as a result. In other words these niches might become a lot less popular – and Google can probably expect some backlash from that as well.

This then will make more obviously ‘human’ content more valuable and it yet again emphasizes the importance of quality writing for the sites that hope to survive. Of course this might also have some impact on the way SEO works, and my best guess is that ‘semantic search’ will mean that the use of synonyms and related terms within content becomes a lot more useful than stuffing pages with the same few keywords. It has also been suggested by search experts that we might have to make some changes to the markup languages of our sites and meta tags if we want to be kept in the loop.

This guest post was written by Jitendra Agrawal of GetLinksPro, a service that specializes in building quality backlinks for web sites and blogs.

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