Over the weekend, Google made a move that may translate into faster, easier search results for consumers. With the Bing/Yahoo alliance around the corner, Google has acquired database company Metaweb to improve its search experience and help it hold tight to the keys to the search kingdom.
Google announced the acquisition last Friday, explaining the database firm would help it streamline answers that best fit users’ queries. The search company says Metaweb will help Google prove “the web isn’t merely words – it’s information.” This mirrors Metaweb’s explanatory YouTube video describing how the service strives to “reconcile multiple layers of information” to understand the links between keywords consumers’ use.
Google says Metaweb will build on its rich snippets and search answers features, which show direct answers to consumers’ queries at the top of pages. For instance, Google’s current system gives searchers looking for Barack Obama’s birthday the answer right under the searchbox. Now, through partnering with Metaweb, the company says it wants to give users information at the top of the page for more complex queries, such as “colleges on the west coast with tuition under $30,000” or maybe “web design services for less than $10,000 in Ohio.”
Marketers planning SEO campaigns should take note that Metaweb is helping Google cater to more specific searches and longer queries. Notably, longer keywords are already a rising trend – Hitwise data shows that five-, six- and seven-word search phrases each gained a percentage point in June 2010. This new Google feature may advance the trend of longer queries.
Metaweb will also be giving Google access to its Freebase – a collection of more than 12 million movies, books, television shows, celebrities and more. This feature seems similar to the Bing Entertainment feature launched earlier this year, which Bing says “helps customers make important entertainment decisions.” The Google/ Metaweb Freebase is distinct in that it will also be offering information on companies, and the search giant “would be delighted” if businesses would start contributing to this data.
While Yahoo officials predict Bing and Yahoo will take a combined 30 percent share of the search market following their merger, Google still stands in a strong lead, with the latest Hitwise report showing the search giant accounted for 71.65 percent of U.S. online queries in June. The alliance with Metaweb may help the search engine find even more favor among one-the-go consumers looking for quick answers.