by Peter Pachal

Google revamped its core product — search — in a major way a couple of weeks ago. Now it looks like the change is paying off. Since the introduction of its Knowledge Graph on May 16, overall search activity has increased, Google representatives told The Wall Street Journal.

The company didn’t offer any numbers, but did say people are interacting more with their search results, and performing more searches.

One Google executive, Amit Singhal, said people were doing more with search partly because the new features were “stoking people’s curiosity.”

The Knowledge Graph (more generally known as “semantic search”) goes beyond matching search terms to pages. In short, it tries to discern the meaning of the phrase a person types in.

For example, if I’m searching for “Facebook movie,” Google infers I’m probably looking for information about The Social Network. It pulls data from open databases such as Freebase and Wikipedia to create a visual block of results to the right of my search results. Thumbnail images of the cast, and the movie poster, are shown alongside basic info about the movie.

Singhal said the increase in use of its product has benefits for others sites as well — if people are performing more searches, they’re visiting more non-Google sites via those links.

Google’s Knowledge Graph is only available for U.S.-based searches right now. Since the feature appears to be popular, however, it’ll likely spread to other English-language countries soon.

The Knowledge Graph and semantic search are tools within the larger trend of evolving search results. Services such as the Wolfram Alpha search engine, interfaces like Apple’s Siri and projects like IBM’s Watson are all designed to steer people to a small — or singular — number of useful results, as opposed to a grab bag of links that may or may not be what you’re actually looking for.

Have you been seeing Google’s Knowledge Graph in your search results? Do you think it’s affected how often you search? Share your experiences in the comments.



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