Google, Big Data & What it Means for SEO

In Google’s recent earnings call, the question was posed, “If you think of the future of Internet search 3 or 4 years out, how important will the social signal be and how important (will) personalization be?”

CEO Larry Page responded by explaining how he might search for one of his friends who had a common name.

“For the first time, the search box isn’t really searching a string…it’s actually searching for that person that I know,” Page said. “Having real feedback from users…is very useful for search…we have a lot of those signals already, but we can always use more…we can always use better relevance and we can always use more data to generate that.”

Page’s response reveals two insights into how Google is thinking about big data:

Page’s anecdote is a direct reference to Google’s increasing focus on enhancing the search experience by leveraging semantic content.
It provides insight into how Google values the social web: as data – a means to an end; not as an end in and of itself.
What Does Big Data Mean Anyway?

Generally speaking, big data refers to the processing and analysis of large data sets to support better real world decision-making. Here is what makes big data both timely and unique:

Increased data generated by individuals via social media platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
Migration of data from local storage to the cloud, where it can be more easily shared and analyzed in aggregate.
A growing acceptance of openness and transparency, resulting in increased access to institutional and organizational data.
Increased potential for analyzing distinct data, resulting from the growing adoption of data standards.
Increased access to infrastructure needed to process large datasets.
Why Does Big Data Matter for SEO?

Big data has always been relevant to search marketers because Google is the original big data company. They have become the institution they are today by analyzing enormous sets of data, making automated inferences, and providing intelligence back to consumers. By studying Google’s methodology and applying their findings, search professionals have been intimately involved with big data for quite some time.

Google is a big data company. The future of search is going to be informed by the field of big data. This is important to understand.

Framed in this context, what can search professionals expect?

The Continued Evolution of Content Into Data

Content is published information. For a search engine to make sense of content, a lot of work has to be done. Data, on the other hand, makes analysis easier for search engines and brings them one step closer to an eventual answer.

Already, Google has begun using semantic information to analyze content and structure search results through rich snippets.

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