Report: Google Readies Major Search Overhaul

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Google’s search engine is about to undergo a major overhaul, reports suggest

Google is poised to shake up the search engine market with a major refresh of its search formula.

The tech giant  is reportedly overhauling its search engine to provide more direct answers to specific user queries, rather than just use its tried and tested formula of showing appropriate Web links to a search query.

The search engine changes, according to the Wall Street Journal, are among the biggest in the company’s history.

There is some concern the changes could impact the millions of websites that currently rely on Google’s existing page-ranking results, however, as previous alterations have done. There are also anxieties the changes could herald more advertisements within search results.

Wolfram Alpha approach?

However, it seems Google will not replace its current keyword-search system, which examines and ranks websites based on the number of keywords it contains. Instead, Google is reportedly looking to provide more relevant search results by making use of semantic search technology. This refers to the process of understanding the actual meaning of words used, and not generate search results based on the exact words entered in the search string.

This will be similar to a British tool that understands and answers queries, instead of searching web pages. Wolfram Alpha was launched by the UK-born physicist and mathematician Stephen Wolfram in May 2009, and the tool was described not as a “search engine” but a “computational knowledge engine”, or “answer engine”, which understands questions and looks for answers in a curated database of information.

Semantic Search

Google search will look more like “how humans understand the world,” Amit Singhal, a top Google search executive was quoted as saying by the WSJ. He noted that for many searches today, “we cross our fingers and hope there’s a Web page out there with the answer.”

The paper also quoted people familiar with the initiative that some of the major changes will show up in the coming months. However, Singhal said Google is undergoing a years-long process to enter the “next generation of search.”

Major Overhaul

Google often tweaks its search engine algorithms. In December it made 30 search improvements, including upgrades to Image Search, the +1 button and Google Instant search.

The company began revealing major search-engine changes back in November, as part of its plan to be more transparent about the approximately 500 algorithm tweaks it makes each year.

Google still dominates the search engine market. ComScore recently placed Google’s share as rising from 66.2 percent in January to 66.4 percent in February 2012. Microsoft also held relatively steady during the same period, rising only from 15.2 percent to 15.3 percent.

Meanwhile Yahoo saw its share dip slightly, from 14.1 percent to 13.8 percent.

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Author: Tom Jowitt
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