Getting Started With Google Knowledge Graph Technology

Google’s new Knowledge Graph technology feature endeavors to make the search engine smarter. The intent is to deliver more relevant results, delivering precisely the answer a user is looking for. Rather than looking at a search term as “just” a set of keywords, the Google Knowledge Graph attempts to understand exactly what a particular query means.

While a great idea, in theory, the new feature is a long way from the sci-fi computer systems which can carry on conversations and deliver precise answers to any question asked in plain language.

For example, the Knowledge Graph is presently limited to proper names – primarily places, people (including groups such as bands) and titles of things like books and movies – which is a rather small subset of all possible search queries. Other search terms will result in the classic results page, without the Knowledge Graph sidebar.

Nevertheless, the Knowledge Graph is a step in the right direction and is particularly useful if you are searching for one of the above items. For example, a search for a popular author may include, alongside the usual search results, a summary of the individual, a photo, a list of key facts (birthdate, awards, important relationships, etc.), a selection of popular books by the author, and related searches.

When searching for Clive Barker, for example, you will find that “people also search for” Stephen King, Neil Gagman, Dean Koontz, and H.P. Lovecraft.

This is a great way to retrieve at-a-glance data that might otherwise require digging through numerous search results in an old-fashioned way.

The Knowledge Graph also attempts to distinguish between different uses of the same name. A search for Paris will reveal facts about the French city, but will also include the option to “see results about” the Paris Las Vegas hotel and casino.

Oddly enough, it doesn’t offer an option to learn about the town of Paris, Texas or other places with the same name. This may suggest that Google’s algorithm doesn’t consider such places as relevant or popular. Nonetheless, it may point to a shortcoming that will likely be addressed as the Knowledge Graph evolves.

So, want to get in on the action and see what the entire buzz is about? Here’s how:

1) Surf on over to Google.com. You may log-in to your Google account, but it is not necessary to use the Knowledge Graph.

Enter a search query for one of the supported types. Try the title of a favorite book or movie, the name of a celebrity, or a major city or tourist attraction.

Look to the right. Knowledge Graph results appear in the third column, usually empty, to the right of the paid and organic search results.

If you don’t see anything here, you may have searched for an item presently unsupported by the Knowledge Graph, or the feature may not be available yet in your region. (The feature first launched in the US and will be available in other English-speaking countries shortly).

Get the facts. In most cases, you will see a brief summary taken from Wikipedia, along with a few key facts about the item searched. Some interesting and perhaps unexpected things you may find include:

For locations: local time, weather and points of interest
For books: a list of characters, genres, prequels/sequels, and related novels
For musicians: lists of awards, record labels, and albums released
For famous people: spouses and children, important dates and milestones

Get new ideas. For almost any media-related query, you will see relevant results for similar topics. This is much like the recommendations on e-tail sites such as Amazon. Search for a favorite author, artist or musician to find others you might like, easily and quickly.

It’s really that simple – search, look and learn

The new Google Knowledge Graph technology may not be a singlehanded revolution of search engine technology, but it is an incredibly useful feature that points to a future in which it is easier than ever to retrieve data and expand your knowledge.

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