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Over the coming months Google will be giving its service a major, groundbreaking upgrade.

The changes, recently announced by the search engine giant, will mean users of its website are no longer provided with a list of websites when asking a question; instead, Google means to provide a direct answer.

This is certainly a bold target by Google, and one that will undoubtedly extend their position as market leader if the changes work effectively.

To enable this feature to work, Google hopes to expand on its use of ‘semantic search’ – a concept where a search engine attempts to ‘understand’ the query it is passed, rather than simply treating it as a list of keywords. For example, when using semantic search Google will understand that the words ‘New’ and ‘York’ have a different meaning when placed together.

Google’s semantic search will be based on its Knowledge Graph. This will allow the search engine to analyse a user’s search term and understand what the query is really asking for, and thus return information that it knows is contextually relevant.

Currently, a site’s positioning on Google is based almost entirely on how well its developer has positioned keywords throughout it – headers, page titles, meta data etc. When Google’s changes are rolled out, however, a website’s ranking will be instead be judged on how well it provides an answer to the user’s question.

As Google has yet to release more information regarding the upcoming changes, it’s hard to estimate the complexity of queries that the search engine will be able to answer, and the accuracy of the answering system itself. What we do know is that the way society uses search engines could be about to change for good.

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