Google Moves Further Away From Keyword Dependence

    August 13, 2012
    Chris Crum

It seems that June, for Google, was all about improving how the search engine deals with natural language. On Friday, Google released a giant list of changes it made over the course of June and July. There were 86 entries on the list. Ten of them were specifically about natural language search improvements, and nine out of those ten were changes made in June.

In addition to those ten changes, there were also five list entries dealing specifically with synonyms, which one might say are also related to natural language. All five of those were also made in June. The listings are as follows:

  • #81933. [project codename “Synonyms”] This launch improves use of query synonyms in ranking. Now we’re less likely to show documents where the synonym has a different meaning than the original search term.
  • gallium-2. [project codename “Synonyms”] This change improves synonyms inside concepts.
  • zinc-4. [project codename “Synonyms”] This change improves efficiency by not computing synonyms in certain cases.
  • #82460. [project codename “Snippets”] With this change we’re using synonyms to better generate accurate titles for web results.
  • #81977. [project codename “Synonyms”] This change updates our synonyms systems to make it less likely we’ll return adult content when users aren’t looking for it.
  • The synonym-related changes indicate that Google is getting better at understanding what we mean, and what we’re looking for.

    The better Google gets at understanding the way users search in terms of the language they use, the more Google is getting away from its dependence on keywords for delivering relevant results, which appears to be one of Google’s main goals as a search engine.

    In fact, that’s exactly what the Knowledge Graph is all about. “Things, not strings,” as Google likes to put it.

    By the way, Google announced last week that it was expanding the Knowledge Graph globally (in English), and adding more to the Knowledge Graph interface on the SERPs.