Google has made it very well known that it plans to take over the Web. Sidewiki is just another example of how ubiquitous the search giant is trying to be. Another example is the race to semantic language indexing. Google isn’t the only search engine trying to move the Web away from forced search engine optimization and toward natural language.
Personally, I’d like to see a natural language Web. It would be a big improvement. Spammers would all but disappear and people could actually find what they are looking for just by typing in a query. Right?
One of the cool things about the structure of the Web today is that searchers can find what they are looking for just by querying a search engine using keywords. What would happen if keywords went away? How would search be conducted then?
The rumor is that the search engines would just know what you are thinking. But that’s not likely. They would probably, at best, just make an “educated guess” based on what you did enter as a search query. For instance, let’s say you were looking for information on Dodge Vipers and you queried “How fast will a viper travel?” Will the search engine assume you are talking about an automobile or will it think you are referring to a snake? You haven’t offered any other clues.
It is likely that, with semantic search, Google – or the search engine of choice – would ask you a follow up question to narrow down your search criteria. It might go something like this:
- Search Engine: Do you mean Dodge Viper or the snake?
Search Engine: (filtering results) Early model or late model?
You: Most recent model.
Search Engine: (filtering results) Great. Check out these Top 10 results and let us know if we can be of further assistance.
In order for this type of semantic filtering to take place, however, there has to be some kind of sentience on the other end of the robot in order for the real-time interaction to take place. Without the real-time filtering, and follow-up questioning, taking place I doubt that real semantic language search querying is going to be possible. There will still need to be some keyword-based indexing necessary.
With that thought in mind, how close are we to achieving this level of semantic search querying? Frankly, a long way off. We might, in a few years, see some semblance of semantic search where the search engine is able to provide you some adequate options based on your initial query. For instance, you might get 5 results addressing your query pertaining to Dodge Vipers and 5 addressing your query pertaining to the snake. But the follow up questions are out – for the time being.
Semantic language indexing is a great concept and a good dream. I think it could happen some day. But I don’t think we’ll see anything real helpful from semantic language any time real soon. Do you?