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The Growth of the Semantic Web

Alex Christie

21 May 2009

For some time, numerous prominent web commentators have waxed lyrical about the fact keyword search is very close to reaching its breaking point. Facts such as the number of people now on the web reaching 1.3 billion and there being over 150 million active websites all contribute to the theory. As the scope of the web continues to expand, it naturally has to grow exponentially to accommodate the additional requests. Essentially the haystack just keeps getting bigger and questions are raised as to the ability of the search engines to keep on finding the needle.

Perhaps not totally unexpectedly we have recently seen an assortment of developments permeate the search marketing place trying to solve this potential problem, undoubtedly the most notable are Google Squared and the highly anticipated Wolfram Alpha project.

The recent Searchology conference for me confirmed Google’s roadmap is very much centred around the increased scope of universal search and recognition about the need for specific pieces of information, possibly highlighting what areas the search behemoth see’s as threats. Google Squared turns results into a spreadsheet format and in essence structures all the previous unstructured data on the web, so if im searching for information on Crystal Palace FC, I may get statistics such as the location of the ground, Stadium capacity, kit colours etc.

This new feature will raise two major questions, firstly and perhaps most importantly for online marketers; will the service simply scrape valuable information from websites and serve directly to users, therefore severely reducing the amount of traffic availably to the website. Secondly is this a viable rival for Wolfram Alpha, judging by the amount of information it has readily available we certainly think so.

The battle to capture the semantic web is likely to continue and no doubt some more players will enter the field of battle. As history has shown us in the past, often the master will pose as the servant. However the real winner in all of this is undoubtedly going to be the semantic web itself.

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