Where is search headed? We’ve heard of semantic search for a few years now, but what’s going on with it? Each major search engine is taking the next steps but some are closer than others.
Actually, what we are beginning to see is semantic and universal search merging together. Yahoo, Ask, Powerset and Hakia showed screenshots that included images, videos, ratings and other media. Are universal and semantic search the same? Possibly.
Yahoo may actually be leading semantic search, as compared to Google, MSN and Ask, as they are empowering users to incorporate data via microformats, rdf and SearchMonkey applications. You can go into Yahoo today and additional sites such as Facebook and LinkdIn are already integrated into people searches. Other applications can be added based on the users preference. Yahoo has seen up to a 15% increase in clicks with the additional information integrated. But is that semantic? Adding in additional information doesn’t necessarily mean the search engine understood my query.
Powerset and Hakia are new a search engines that is trying to get away from simple keyword & link relevance and analyze content to become semantic search engines. Unlike the major engines, they don’t have to worry about current users and pre-defined expectations. They may actually have a head start because of this.
During the session Kevin Ryan made a great point. For years searchers have been using one, two or three word searches to get results, but semantic search is best when searchers ask a question. So how do we get users to forget what they know about searching and advance their queries?
Ask actually may have a hand up on this as we were all use to asking Jeeves a question. Maybe it’s time for Jeeves to be revived??
The goal of semantic search is to give users what they want without having to re-do their search. It’s about search engines becoming more understanding and a system for giving users what they want the first time they ask.