For its 15th birthday, Google released information about their largest update in years, an update referred to as Hummingbird. Essentially, Hummingbird consists of a new technology called the Knowledge Graph, and it’s utterly mind-blowing.
1. What does the Knowledge Graph do?
The Knowledge Graph is Google’s initial efforts to create a smarter search engine. Similar to a human mind, which can make connections between items and answer complex questions, this new advancement in Google technology is designed to take simple keyword search to the next level by instilling within the search engine an ability to make connections all on its own, almost like a computer in a futuristic science fiction movie. For example, if one were to ask it to explain the difference between two different water testing products, it might respond with a list of stats for each product, as well as ratings, reviews, and perhaps even charts.
Additionally, the Knowledge Graph is supposed to be able to follow conversations. For example, if one were to say ‘here,’ it would know that that means your current location. Or if you ask it about a certain item and then ask another question about the same item, you could just write the word ‘it’ and it would know what you mean.
2. What stage is the Knowledge Graph at now?
At the moment, the Knowledge Graph is in its preliminary stages. Google is initially focusing on developing its ability to make connections between different words in order to find a relationship between them. In other words, if one were to type in ‘rose’ and ‘daisy,’ the search engine should be able to tell that both are flowers. Eventually, this technology might reach the point of understanding text on a more nuanced and human level, a scary and yet thrilling thought.
3. How will this change the way we search now?
Search engines have developed almost entirely around the use of a keyword. It would take each word put into the search engine and come up with websites that use as many of them as possible. As a result, researchers have developed the skill of using fewer and more direct words in order to produce the desired material. However, with the changes Google seeks to make, search engines will work much more naturally, allowing people to search full sentences and be understood. With the recent growth of voice searching, the ability to speak colloquially and be understood will certainly make things easier for everyone.
4. What effect will this have on SEO?
SEO works solely based on keywords, so by diminishing the importance of keywords in the search engine, SEO will matter less. Developing a strong network and building a large audience will end up being much more important, as will producing content that will be cited and spread.
5. Is this the beginning of robots taking over the world?
I really hope not, but giving computers the ability to understand human speech and make connections on their own is usually how these things start in movies. But in all seriousness, Google’s new endeavor can be the start of making searching for information on the web a much simpler task, and that is something that we can all look forward to.