Stephen Baker

The Numerati
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How Google's new "answer" machine could rock Web business

January 23, 2010News

Google's new search technology, Google Squared, attempts to answer factual questions right in the query results, so that searchers don't even have to click the Web page. This already happens quite a bit in search results, but Google Squared should raise the percentage.

This looks like a response to Wolfram Alpha, the math-driven knowledge engine that provides answers in lieu of links. IBM is on a similar trail, though a far more ambitious one, as it teaches a computer to play Jeopardy.

For the commercial Web, answer technology poses trouble. It eliminates visits to Web sites. Companies rely on search engines to deliver traffic, not to cherry pick the answers from their sites and serve them directly to Web surfers. ClickThrough Internet Marketing blog writes: "If Google endeavours to feed all the information to searchers, without any requirement to visit your site at all, where does that leave your carefully crafted website? Or your PPC campaign if the answers are within the organic results provided by Google? The fun has begun!"

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