Do you really think Google would reveal its plans on how they want search to evolve? I sure do. If you don’t believe me just ask Matt Cutts. Or better yet just watch him answering the question below.
After bypassing the cyborg comments he makes some pretty profound statements that Google should be a “good assistant,” “understand the context,” and “synthesize information.” But more importantly he goes on to say that Google should be able to handle difficult syntax not just by data or knowledge but towards analysis and wisdom. Now what does that mean?
Quick Algorithm Recap
In the famous words of Hitch “You can’t know where you’re going until you know where you’ve been,” so to get a better understanding of the future lets back up a few years and look at what Google has done with previous algorithm updates. I am only going to hit on the high points, but if you want to go further I would recommend referencing SEO Moz’s Algorithm History.
- Florida Update – November 2003
- Paid Links – October 2007
- Rel Canonical – February 2009
- Social Signals – December 2010
- Panda – February 2011
- Google Authorship – June 2011
- Penguin – April 2012
- Knowledge Graph – May 2012
- EMD Update – September 2012
Many of the previous algorithm updates and iterations listed were aimed to dismantle spam, technical manipulation, and improving their infrastructure. It took over a decade of progress before Google was even able to begin to tackle the context issue.
Google Authorship and the Knowledge Graph implementation was the catalyst to bring data together in a sensible format. The Knowledge Graph pulls data from reliable sources to show images, descriptions, background information, people involved, and other related information while Google Authorship connects content with a specific author. The Knowledge Graph is even more sophisticated than it would appear at first glance. Bill Slawski at SEO by the Sea has uncovered that the information in knowledge graphs can be dynamic depending on what users are searching for, so not all knowledge graphs are created equal.
Back to the Present
So what does Matt Cutts mean when he says that search will be going toward analysis and wisdom? The simple answer is Google wants to answer every single question the user has on the very first try and if possible before the user even asks the question.
In an article in the Guardian, Google’s CEO Larry Page said that they are trying to reduce every possible friction between the user, their thoughts, and the information they want to find. He even mentions brain implants to answer questions at the time a thought originates. Maybe Larry and Matt are in cahoots to make us all cyborgs. But I digress…
In order for Google to get to the point where they can answer every possible question a couple of things have to occur. They need to have access to a lot of data and a way to relationally put it together. Part of the data gathering process has already been explained above with Google Authorship and the Knowledge Graph, but lets continue going down the rabbit trail on more sources they are using to get data.
First they have Google Analytics which is installed on millions of websites. Have you ever wondered why Google Analytics is free for up to 10 million pageviews a month? It is the amount of data that is now at their disposal. Google makes it very easy for you to share your data with them. When you’re setting up a Google Analytics account, they have conveniently pre-checked all the data sharing settings for you even though they are technically optional. This data allows them to understand user behavior for individual websites but more importantly for different verticals.