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Google App Now Understands Complex Questions


What if searching the internet was more like having a regular conversation? That’s the idea behind an announcement that appeared Monday on the official Google blog. Google says its search app just got a whole lot smarter—and can understand complicated, natural language questions.


Google Grows Up

Google says its app can now understand the meaning of a question you ask it, then “find the right facts and compose a useful answer.” It does this by breaking a question down by its semantics and understanding each part of what you ask. Although not mentioned in the announcement, the changes are likely powered by the RankBrain AI.


So what difference does that make? Google calls out three types of complex questions, that other search engines can’t answer:

  1. Superlatives and ordered items. Superlatives are words like “biggest” or “best selling,” that indicate the degree of something. For example, you can ask the Google App “What are the largest cities in Texas?” and get an accurate answer. That answer will be ordered, meaning you’ll get a list of the largest cities from biggest to smallest. You can even add qualifiers like, “What are the largest cities in Texas by population?”
  2. Moments in time. All search engines can answer basic factual questions, but if you start getting picky about specific dates or years, they tend to break down. For example, “What was the population of New York in 1913” returns a smattering of history sites with no immediate answer. The Google App has changed that. It will give quick answers to time-based questions, like “What songs did Taylor Swift record in 2014?”
  3. Complicated or indirect questions. All of the above might seem relatively straightforward. As long as Google has the data somewhere, answering these more precise questions was only a matter of time. But what about complicated or tricky questions? Google gives some impressive examples:

“What are some of Seth Gabel’s father-in-law’s movies?”

“What was the U.S. population when Bernie Sanders was born?”

“Who was the U.S. President when the Angels won the World Series?”

These types of queries require the app to look at multiple types of data and connect them in the right way. No other search engine can do that.

Changing How We Search

These changes are not small in scope. They’re the sort of advance that’s easy to shrug at today, but that you’d be irritated to lose tomorrow. They make life a little more convenient.

They also change what search users expect. More and more, the emphasis is on getting a quick answer in the search results themselves. For businesses, that increases the pressure to offer high value information. You want to be the source that Google cites.

How do you do that? EverSpark Interactive can help. Contact us for a free consultation and see what we can do for your business today.


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