Over the past few years, we’ve seen many arguments that Google needs to become more “social” if it doesn’t want to be somehow made irrelevant by Facebook. But while the social signal can be an interesting and perhaps sometimes useful tip for Google’s search algorithm, I think it should never represent more than a small single digit percentage it its algorithm.
People don’t always want to see what their friends thought the best answer is, because in most cases those “friends” may not even be that close to you and are just some people you added to your online social circle. Therefore, their shares and likes (or +1′s) might not even be that relevant to your question.
What Google Search needs is a very smart AI that can understand exactly what you’re asking it, and then does its best to find the best results for your question, and rank them in order of importance. That’s what Google is, and has always been about. The Knowledge Graph is proof that Google hasn’t forgotten that, because I think the Knowledge Graph is an important step in Google’s evolution as a search engine.
The Knowledge Graph connects people, things, places and the attributes assigned to them, and then understands what you’re talking about when you say a word that could have multiple meanings. In other words, it’s a contextual or semantic algorithm. Once it understands exactly what you meant with your Google query, it can provide you further information on that topic on the Google search page.
Google has announced today that the Knowledge Graph is now available for all English-speaking countries:
Google has also announced that their overhauled Google Voice Search that we’ve already seen in Jelly Bean, will be coming to iOS devices as well. This has the benefit of not just simply evolving its Voice Search on all platforms, but also of making Siri look not-as-good as every iOS user thought it was.
Once people get to compare them, they will see that Google’s version gives them a lot better answers, which are delivered a lot faster. Siri takes its answers from Google, Yahoo and Bing, but also from Wolfram Alpha, Wikipedia and other 3rd party sources, so one can argue it knows a lot less than Google, which uses its own search engine to provide the results.