Yesterday Google unveiled its newest direction with regard to search. Behold: Entity Search and the Knowledge Graph.
So what is entity search and what does it mean for SEO?
Currently and since the beginning of search, results were a product of the specific words you typed in and a combination of other on-page factors such as where those words were located and how often and off-page factors such as the number of outside sources that linked to the page and the social activity surrounding the page. So in a nutshell it was all based on 1′s and 0′s and had little to do with the actual objects, or ‘entities’ themselves.
Entity search seeks to close the gap between what the searcher is looking for and the actual things that exist in our world. It’s an attempt to make search understand the world and the relationships between things more like people do. It does this by using a new concept, the Knowledge Graph. The Knowledge Graph is the relationship between things in the actual physical world.
Here is a video Google released to further describe it:
For example, Google says of the search term [taj mahal]:
Take a query like [taj mahal]. For more than four decades, search has essentially been about matching keywords to queries. To a search engine the words [taj mahal] have been just that—two words.
But we all know that [taj mahal] has a much richer meaning. You might think of one of the world’s most beautiful monuments, or a Grammy Award-winning musician, or possibly even a casino in Atlantic City, NJ. Or, depending on when you last ate, the nearest Indian restaurant. It’s why we’ve been working on an intelligent model—in geek-speak, a “graph”—that understands real-world entities and their relationships to one another: things, not strings.
Here is a screenshot of what search results might look like:
And a results if the search term [marie curie] was used:
I think both of these concepts are intriguing and they are both bold and noble endeavors by Google. It’s seems intuitive to display search results based on actual objects and not binary language, but still, it’s difficult to wrap my head around search results that aren’t based on code simply because that is what I’ve been used to for so long.
What does this mean for SEO?
Well right now, I think very little. I think that Google is still a ways off before SEO’s have to start thinking beyond checking URL’s and h1 tags and link-building.
But in time this has the potential to change SEO significantly. No longer will links to a website from unrelated websites in different niches count for much in Google’s eyes I suspect (even less post Penguin). I think this move will further reinforce the fact that SEO is more than link building, but in fact relationship building. Black-hat SEO’s will find it even more difficult in an already difficult search environment. Buying links will be nearly pointless and you’ll be hard pressed to prove to Google that your blog network is related to your website in any real or physical way. It seems the knowledge graph seeks to make the Internet in closer sync with the real world which is the bane of SERP manipulators.
Want to read more? Check out John Doherty’s take.
What are your thoughts about how this will affect SEO?