You may have heard or read a little about the Knowledge Graph in the last month, but what is it? Although it was released into the wild around a month ago in the US we have yet to see it here over in the UK – but it is always important to know what is coming our way.
What is the Knowledge Graph?
Launched mid May in the US, it is an update that Google has been working on for a couple of years (at least). When you search around a particular ‘object’ (as Google calls them) you are likely to see a large panel appear on the right hand side of your search results. These panels are the result of what Google calls the Knowledge Graph or entity search.
If you search for a film or a famous person or famous building for example (click the links to see the Knowledge Graph in action) you will be presented with the knowledge that Google has collected about this entity/object – “strings not things” as Google referred to it.
So what? How does help me as a searcher?
When Google announced that they were officially releasing this update they mentioned the 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.” Amit Singhal, SVP, Engineering
As a user you are going to be presented with the information that you need in a more immediate fashion, look at the results in google.com for “taj mahal”
As a searcher you are going to be getting a better, richer search experience than before, there are links to relevant facts, the architect, a map, contact details, what other people are searching for and then if you were looking for the musician or the casino that information is there as well.
For search queries that Google may have had a little difficulty with before, they can now present you with relevant entities with visual clues for you to make a decision – take for example “cat on a hot tin roof”:
or “crystal palace”
It’s easier to choose like this than with a list of links, right?
As you can see these searches can provide with a fairly rich set of results – richer than a list of 10 links based on keywords. This is an immediate, user friendly way of finding (and discovering) information quickly.
When you know more or less what you are searching for it is pretty awesome.
When I take the above search for ‘wire’ and change it to ‘the wire’ I get the Knowledge Graph panel with rich data about the show that I am looking to find information on:
You will see in the above screenshot that the data that Google is fairly comprehensive, we get:
- A summary of the TV show
- First Episode
- Last Episode
- Program Creator (with a link to further information)
- Theme Song
- The Genre
- The Principal Actors – with links
- Similar TV Shows (which are based on search and probably fit closely with my tastes – they do by the way!) – with links
That’s pretty cool right? Well it gets better – just heard about a band from a friend (probably suggested on Search Plus Your World – by Google) and know nothing about them?
Tap it into Google and watch the Knowledge Graph do its work:
Again the data provided is incredibly rich:
- A Concise Summary
- Band Members (with links)
- Record Labels
- Popular Songs (with links to further search results and the year and album)
- Events (with links to buy tickets)
Not enough? They also have popular albums and similar bands…phew!
From a search perspective whether you know exactly what you are looking for or have a rough idea you are likely to see the Knowledge Graph panels popping up – if the search term is considered an entity or object and Google has it in its database.
Database – so what is in the database?
According to Google:
“Google’s Knowledge Graph isn’t just rooted in public sources such as Freebase, Wikipedia and the CIA World Factbook. It’s also augmented at a much larger scale—because we’re focused on comprehensive breadth and depth. It currently contains more than 500 million objects, as well as more than 3.5 billion facts about and relationships between these different objects. And it’s tuned based on what people search for, and what we find out on the web.” Amit Singhal, SVP, Engineering
(Bold added by me!)
That is a fairly impressive data-set – essentially removing a lot of the guessing that plagued some of the results for more general search terms.
“We are in the early stages of moving away from being an information engine to becoming a knowledge engine” Johanna Wright – Project Management Director