Google Unveils Biggest Search Revamp In Years
May 17, 2012

Google Unveils Biggest Search Revamp In Years

Google launched a major addition to its search results page on Wednesday, which the company says will provide users with more relevant and accurate Internet search results.

Dubbed “Knowledge Graph”, the update is Google´s biggest search overhaul in years.  It is the culmination of a two year project to crawl hundreds of Web sources, from Wikipedia to the World CIA Factbook, Google Local, Google Books, Google Shopping and other sites, to build a vast database of subjects and their numerous attributes.

The current index includes a broad collection of roughly 500 million people, places and things with some 3.5 billion attributes, or connections.  Searches on any of these subjects will generate a “Knowledge Graph-based” summary box on the right side of the page.  The box will include additional key information about the query, displayed in a manner somewhat similar to Facebook's Timeline feature.

A wide variety of subjects are included in the new database, such as lakes, music, amusement parks, sports teams and other topics, and the list is expected to grow rapidly over time.

“The Knowledge Graph enables you to search for things, people or places that Google knows about–landmarks, celebrities, cities, sports teams, buildings, geographical features, movies, celestial objects, works of art and more–and instantly get information that´s relevant to your query,” wrote Amit Singhal, Senior Vice President of Engineering at Google, in a posting on Google´s official blog.

“This is a critical first step towards building the next generation of search, which taps into the collective intelligence of the web and understands the world a bit more like people do”

Google said it would begin running all search queries through the new database beginning on Wednesday for English language users signed in to Google.   The updated functionality will be available for all English-language queries in the near future, Google said.

“Our goal is to help people learn things about the world, which will let them act in the world to do great things,” said Ben Gomes, distinguished engineer at Google, in an interview with Fox News.

"We´ve been working on this for the last couple of years. It´s been an incredible amount of effort."

Some analysts expressed concern that such a major overhaul of Google´s search engine, along with the recent redesign of Microsoft´s Bing, might detract from the simplified, easy-to-use interface users have come to expect when conducting Internet searches.

"Search engines are presenting more and more structured data in search results," said Greg Sterling, a technology analyst with knowledge of Google's product, in an interview with USA Today.

These features, he said, raise doubts about cluttering the austere layout of Google´s search engine.

"There's a question about clutter on the page. Does the layout become too bloated? How does this translate into mobile, where it might be most effective?"

An under-the-hood look at the technology behind Google´s updated site, explained by the company´s engineers, can be viewed here.