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Wall Street Journal Announces Google Search Changes

The Wall Street Journal reported that Google plans to launch major changes to its search engine algorithm, changes that could affect millions of websites. In what is being described as some of the biggest changes in the company's history, Google's revamped search engine will be providing more data and direct answers to search queries at the top of the search engine results page, as opposed to the basic blue web links.

While Google plans to honor its current keyword-search system, the new change aims to produce "more relevant results" by introducing a new technology called "semantic search," the process of "understanding the meaning of words." In an interview with the Wall Street Journal, Google's top executive Amit Singhal said that semantic search will provide better search results by connecting search queries with a database of entities (such as people, places, and things) which Google has collected over the past two years. The new process will connect different words together, such as a company name with its founders or top executives.

Under semantic search, users who search for a certain city will see additional information about the city, such as its location, altitude, and average temperature, while users who search for same city today might only receive various web links, such as the city's visitor bureau site and Wikipedia page. Another major difference under the shift will be Google's ability to answer complex questions without pointing to web links.

When producing answers that are not in Google's database of entities, the updated search engine will combine the new technology with the current keyword-search system to provide results. According to the article, some changes will appear in the coming months; however, most changes represent Google's "years-long" process to create the "next generation of search."

- Melanie Saxe

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Mar 15, 2012