Barely a week goes by without Google snapping up some new company to expand or improve their current service offerings. This week it’s the turn of database developer Metaweb.
One criticism of Google’s search results has always been that they aren’t always intuitive. Yes, they use keywords to understand the fundamentals of a search query, but they can sometimes fall short when it comes to providing outright answers.
In recent months Bing has been running a high profile advertising campaign mocking other search engines’ (well, just Google really) inability to understand context and really get to the bottom of the searchers’ intentions. Well, it appears Google have responded.
Worse still for Microsoft and Bing, Metaweb, the company at the centre of this takeover, currently provide database services for their search engines. This includes Freebase, an expansive free directory with 12 million entries covering everything from celebrities to sports teams. Google will now integrate all of this data into their own searches in the coming months to provide users with more intelligent results for certain queries (see example from Bing below).
This could of course mean another element to be added to increasingly crowded Google SERPs [see: The Changing Anatomy of a Google Search Page]. Not ideal when organic results are already being bumped down, but from a user point of view, this is another way of ensuring you find the information you want with one search.
A more intuitive search coupled with easily digestible information from a huge database ought to benefit Google. It remains to be seen whether Bing will still benefit from Metaweb’s service, but Google themselves have acknowledged that Freebase will remain free to use and they will be working to develop it further [see: Deeper understanding with Metaweb | Official Google Blog].
This won’t be a massive money spinner for Google, like their recent ITA acquisition is intended to be [see: Google Move into Travel Search Market with ITA Acquisition], but it could certainly sway some Bing users to come back and use their services. When it comes to the fight for search supremacy, the individual engines need to continuously point score off of one another; once again, Google look like they have pulled the rug out from beneath Bing with this news.