Google Semantic Search: It’s Alive!


We’ve been waiting for more semantic results from Google since the acquisition of Freebase. Well now it’s here!


State of Search reported on interesting types of search results starting to show in Google so we went to investigate further.

Our initial search queries were around business people, politicians and other well-known people. We also tried movie directors and actors found that the new results show greater depth and can go as far as answering key facts about life and relationship of these people. For example, a search on “Julia Roberts Movies” will bring up a list of movies she appeared in and “PUSA Band Members” will list all the members of the famous rock band. Note that “PUSA” is an acronym for “The Presidents of the United States of America” and Google got it right!

It gets even better. Search for “Author of I Robot“, or “Works of Michelangelo” to see Google truly make semantic connections. The relationships in knowledge spam across other facets including spouses, children, birth, death and age. It even gave us the exact answer for “BMW head office” and “how big is Australia” search queries (Thanks Pe lagic).

The level of certainty comes from various cross-referenced sources including wikipedia and news results. Google users are asked to confirm the validity of results, though we do not expect those to be anything more than passive feedback unlikely to alter Google’s answers in search.

Do they know everything? Google’s “answer” results are far from perfect for example, there is no direct answer to who the president of the united states is? Surely work in progress as they can tell his education pretty well. Our favourite search query though would have to be this: How old is Jesus?

How old is Jesus?

One interesting item we found was a point in the March search quality updates from Google stating:

Improvements to name detection. [launch codename "edge", project codename "NameDetector"] We’ve improved a system for detecting names, particularly for celebrity names.

The above is clearly visible in the new answer-style results.

Is this new?

Not entirely. Google had many complex and customised results in its search for a while.

Here are some examples:

What to expect in the future?

Google users can expect to see more helpful information shortcuts in the future as the search engine continues to grow its knowledge base. It will be a likely scenario where knowledge meets link graph and social graph in a single unified set of results.

What type of search queries trigger direct answers on Google?



Business People:

Movie Directors (Double Result!):














Thank you

We would like thank these guys for helping us find cool search queries for this article:


Dan Petrovic is a well-known Australian SEO and a managing director of Dejan SEO. He has published numerous research articles in the field of search engine optimisation and online marketing. Dan's work is highly regarded by the world-wide SEO community and featured on some of the most reputable websites in the industry.

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One Response to “Google Semantic Search: It’s Alive!”

  1. This is good news for us guys who have clients that seek to rank not only for 2 word KW phrases but those longtails that are less searched for but convert from prospect to paying customer much faster.

    • Neil Ferree

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