Search Engines and Semantic Search

Semantic search technology is being employed by search engines to produce better answers. Semantic means meaning – to respond to the meaning of the query rather than the exact words. This deployment has been gradual, and mostly (it seems) is directed to helping us shop. This article by Barbara Starr
Is Google Hijacking Semantic Markup/Structured Data?  (Search Engine Land, Jan 17)  together with her earlier piece, How Search & Social Engines Are Using Semantic Search– provides background and explanation.

Some of the pieces for us to understand are:

  • “Semantic Search, as it is used in current parlance is essentially the notion of using or exploiting metadata to improve search on documents. In the case of search engines, it more explicitly refers to embedding metadata in HTML5 (using semantic markup, the formats or HTML5 syntax currently supported by the search engines: RDFa Lite and microdata).”
  • Support by Bing, Google, and Yahoo for as as a “set of schemas for structured data markup on web pages”.
  • With came more use of rich snippets to enhance display, especially useful to merchants to provide detailed product information.
  • Google’s Knowledge Graph that pulls in information from Freebase, Wikipedia, CIA World Book in answer to queries that seem suitable for facts and aggregations of information or reference – mostly people and places.