Google’s “browseable fact repository”

What I have learned from this posting from SEO by the Sea — Google’s Query Language (Nov 13)

– Google has patents on something it calls a “browseable fact repository” – this became the Knowledge Graph.

– Google engineers considered a query language for this. It would have had to be something like SPARQL for searching a relational database.  Bill Slawski describes the key bits, which we can be pretty sure almost no one would ever learn.

– Google decided on a “united search interface” instead – understandable.

– Handy reference - Punctuation, symbols and operators in search.


Primer on search

This article provides a good overview with illustrations of how search works. The classic types of search – navigational, informational, and transactional are noted, and also that Google addresses all of these in “using semantic and exploratory techniques to information retrieval”. Search has changed greatly over the past 5 to 10 years to become much more personalized, more monitored, and more commercialized – all concerns that are explored here.

There is more to search than Google by Royan Ayyar, Semrush (Oct 24)

Entitities at work

Entities is the key to search-engine placement – not keyword trigger words – but content that names people, places, events, and provides other important information. Bill Slawski gives the example of building a page on Black History that will rank well based entirely on meaningful content.

How I Came To Love Entities by Bill Slawski, SEO by the Sea (Oct 24)

Importance of navigation

The best designed sites provide clear navigation structure (such as a taxonomy or table of contents) to direct users to content. That structure, as we learn in this article, informs and guides users, in ways that keyword search doesn’t. Keyword search requires that the user have knowledge and a specific skill.

Search Is Not Enough: Synergy Between Navigation and Search, by RALUCA BUDIU, Nielson Norman Group (September 7, 2014)

Navigation serves important functions: it shows people what they can find on the site, and teaches them about the structure of the search space. Using the navigation categories is often faster and easier for users than generating a good search query. Plus, many times site search does not work well or requires users to have a good understanding of its limitations.

Explicit and Implicit Entities

Search engines today – especially Google and Bing – seek to identify entities and their relationships. This posting distinguishes between implicit and explicit entities. Explicit is known from structured markup; implicit is inferred from the text on the page.

Demystifying The Knowledge Graph, Barbara Starr, Search Engine Land (Sep 2)

Posting has advice for SEO people for optimizing their pages for recognition by the Knowledge Graph.

Dan Russell Lecture

Google search guru Daniel Russell spoke on the The Revolution in Asking and Answering Questions in this video – showing how new search capabilities empower us to ask new questions and get “deep answers”. Video lecture has many good examples from Google search. Closes with demo of conversational style for question and answer.

The Revolution in Asking and Answering Questions, Search Research (May 13, 2014)

Google’s Fact Extraction

Bill Slawski (SEObytheSEA) examines fact extraction process in Google and notes a way that Google may be using  anchor text to find other terms for those facts.


He explains that there are two types of crawling and indexing.

  1. Indexing text – as we are accustomed to thinking – and ranking pages.
  2. Identifying named entities – people, places, things – and picking these out as “fact extraction”. These crawlers have been called “janitors”.

Google is likely using anchor text to learn more about the entities and specifically to gather alternate names.

Entity-based search

SEO analysts are being encouraged to design for entity search – and searchers can keep in mind many of the same points.

Feeding the Hummingbird: Structured Markup Isn’t the Only Way to Talk to Google by Cyrus-Shepard, The Moz Blog (June 17)

Structured markup   does help the search engine   identify the entities: people, place, products, events; but the search engine can parse text to identify subject – predicate – object in the query and in the text. This is a triple – and Google and others are good at extracting the semantic meaning. The advice to the SEO analyst to include “appropriate predicates and objects” might apply to the searcher too.

Meaning is clearer with use of synonyms and context – the “co-occuring phrases”.   Google excels at expanding a word in context to related words – synonyms.  The SEO analyst and the searcher could help the process by adding a few too.



Bing at Five Years

Bing, though it has not upset Google in market share, does have some successes in creating a search platform to be used in other applications.\

At Five Years Old, Bing Has Come Far Yet Has More To Grow, Danny Sullivan, Search Engine Land (Jun 2)

“It just scored another win by powering Spotlight search in the forthcoming versions of Apple’s Mac OS X “Yosemite” operating system and iOS 8. Bing has certainly proven itself to be more a contender than I think many would have believed. Maybe in five years, we’ll see a real platform-to-platform battle happen.”

And in another five years the search engine scene will be completely different.