Semantics, Siri and Social now Shaping Google SERPs

Google’s Semantic Search algorithm will use the science of meaning within language, in hopes of producing more relevant search results, instead of a list of loosely-related keyword links.

Their newest forthcoming algorithm comes in anticipation of changes brought about by the increasing use of mobile device technology and most notably, Siri (Speech Interpretation and Recognition Interface), a particular feature introduced by Apple which is now included in iOS 5 and available on the iPhone 4S.

Freebase explains, “The (Siri) application uses a natural language user interface to answer questions, make recommendations and perform actions by delegating requests to a set of web services. Apple claims that the software adapts to the user’s individual preferences over time and personalizes results, and performing tasks such as finding recommendations for nearby restaurants, or getting directions.”

Can you see where we are going with this? Whole systems are becoming smarter and increasingly humanistic. Say goodbye to, typing, tapping, texting and just ask…Open the pod bay doors HAL.”

Google is also blending in an optional social layer of results. If you are a logged-in Google user, then your Search Engine Results Pages (SERPs) are already displaying the additional social influence of Google’s +1 posts.

Try it! If you have a gmail account, open a browser, login and then search Google for a phrase. Then, open a different browser, without logging into your account and go straight to Google. Search for the same identical phrase and compare the net results.

You can turn this feature on and off at will but, the boundaries are blurring as mobile devices get smaller, smarter, social and ubiquitous. In order to respond accordingly Google is building what they call the Knowledge Graph because in so many ways, Google does not yet understand you, based on their simplistic keyword search algorithm …and they want to change that.

Words have much different implied meanings when you put them together, typically quite different than when indexed apart from each other… lake and Michigan, hot and dog, steering and wheel. This is the core of fundamental semantics that Google intends to deliver in their SERPs, more accurate answers to your questions. So, they are creating “entities” of artificial intelligence.

explains, “In 2010, Google purchased Freebase, a community-built knowledge base packed with some 12 million canonical entities. Twelve million is a good start, but Google has, according to Fellow and SVP Amit Singhal, invested dramatically to ‘build a huge knowledge graph of interconnected entities and their attributes.’”

What does this mean to you, the content creator? It means that you must begin to write intelligent answers to questions being asked, if you expect to have greater search engine rank and relevance over pages that are simply filled with clever collections of keyword phrases.

But in the long run perhaps it’s just as HAL predicted, that we humans are just getting in the way…
I have been an educational design consultant for more than a decade, initially working for Marquette University designing their first distance learning applications for the Colleges of Nursing and of Education. I continue to explore and research the ongoing development of new media and the interactive learning interface it provides. I am a filmmaker and social media campaign developer.