Search engines have historically been the best way to find information on the internet. But what if we didn’t need search engines anymore? What if, all we had to do was verbally tell the computer what we needed and it gave us the best response? All without visiting a web page, navigating through ads or waiting for our browsers to load.
Well, computer scientists at IBM have almost made the above scenario a reality. With their new natural language processing (NLP) super computer named “Watson”, they are breaking new ground that could potentially create a radical shift in information retrieval (IR).
Now, many of you already know that I am fascinated with NLP. In fact one of the first web applications I ever created is highly dependent on NLP. I really think NLP could play a very significant role in the future of IR.
But, it’s important to state that we are a long way away from seeing the type of NLP for public use that is needed to have a successful product. Google already admits that it is using some form of NLP for sentiment analysis, but most are skeptical of how much they use it, and how strong of a ranking factor it is.
So, you might be asking yourself, why the heck is Joe talking about all this?
I think it is extremely important that we as marketers continue to look forward at how information is exchanged. A few years ago if you would have asked most online marketers if the popularity of content on Facebook was important to SEO, most would have laughed you out the room; now it is a reality.
So, my question to you is, if a NLP based information retrieval system one day takes the place of search engines, how will that change the way that marketers promote content online? Instead of SEO, will we then optimize information? And, if so, how?