Yahoo has recently announced that it is adopting some of the key standards of ‘semantic web’ search functionality. This technology is seen as the next step for the world wide web as it involved a much greater understanding of the data placed online by the search engines and thus providing end-users more of what they want – relevant content.
Yahoo has stated that it will start now to include some semantic web identifiers when indexing the web for their search engine users. This could well mean that there’s a big boost (and an uptake) for the technology that has previously been slow on the uptake. Of course, if Yahoo were to suddenly do much better, perhaps Google would refine its’ own semantic technologies.
Google (for instance) at the moment identifies relevance of sites based on the links on a site as much as the text and content. Semantic web search and indexing on the other hand helps to apparently ‘capture the meaning of data on a page’ so that indexers and spiders can work out relevance to a particular topic rather than just guessing.
Of course, as mentioned, semantic web is new. Luckily however there are those who are taking it up – which means that tags are starting to appear that helps search engines work out exactly what they should be doing with the content and how it relates to other sites.
I’ve no doubt that this will be, along with a range of other technologies, part of the search engine and web technologies of the future. It does get me thinking though. If technology keeps advancing in this way, will it be the end user who is in fact the weak link in the chain?
I wonder this already when people ask ‘how can I find a telephone number’ for instance – there are so many sites that you can do this with they have a wealth of options. What it does show though is that along with the technology evolving, people’s understanding must develop hand in glove with it to make the most of the new abilities it provides.