Google Acquires ‘Metaweb’ To Further Improve Web Search

by Ferman Aziz

When it comes to search engines, no one can come close, let alone beat, Google. The name is now synonymous with web searching and ‘Googling’ has become an accepted term to use in place of searching. Google, though, is not sitting content on its laurels but continues to look for ways to push the boundaries and make ‘googling’ an even more improved and fruitful experience; even if it means acquiring companies with skills and database needed to achieve this goal.

‘Metaweb’ is a semantic web and real world database company founded in 2005 that has assembled a database of all sorts of things in the world, their properties, and their relationships by connecting internet search terms and words to real-world things. It has a collection of data about over 12 million items from entertainment (movies, books, TV shows) to locations, celebrities, companies and other “real world” objects. Google now owns the company and is confident that the hook-up will “improve search and make the web richer and more meaningful for everyone.”

Google became interested in the company to take on the challenge of people using dozens of different terms and words to search for the same entity and sometimes the same name referring to different entities. Metaweb’s database, open to contributions by others through a mechanism called ‘Freebase’ keeps track of the properties of 12 million such entities. Google can handle a lot of search queries, but Metaweb’s information will enable it to handle more.

Jack Menzel, a Google director of Product Management mapped out the working strategies adopted by Google to use Metaweb’s data to improve web search in a blog post. Menzel explains:

With efforts like rich snippets and the search answers feature, we’re just beginning to apply our understanding of the web to make search better, but some searches remain out of Google’s reach. What about [colleges on the west coast with tuition under $30,000] or [actors over 40 who have won at least one oscar]? These are hard questions, and we’ve acquired Metaweb because we believe working together we’ll be able to provide better answers.

He further elaborates:

Google and Metaweb plan to maintain Freebase as a free and open database for the world. We plan to contribute to and further develop Freebase and would be delighted if other Web companies use and contribute to the data. We believe that by improving Freebase, it will be a tremendous resource to make the web richer for everyone.

You can check out the video below to get to know what Metaweb is all about.

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