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Google Breaks Into the Content Business in a Spectacular Way

By on July 17, 2010

Google has just acquired what looks to be a revolutionary content aggregator for web developers. Metaweb defines it’s service as a hub for web developers and bloggers to “plug in” to great content.

Metaweb has built a smarter, more connected internet by classifying all persons, places and things under a unique ID they call an entity.

This video introduction does a good job explaining the concept and how Metaweb could bring great content to site owners.

I learned of all this at the Official Google blog today and am a little troubled by the tone of the announcement. I have lots of questions.

Will this optimistic outlook of Metaweb as a service to web developers change as they merge into Google?

Will these cool widgets ever see the light of your monitor?

Google has been increasingly adding content alongside search results in recent years. They have already taken over the traffic and attention of numerous industries and niches such as travel arrangements, business listings, definitions, product comparison and even the news.

Now Google hopes to enable a smarter search where people can go beyond text.

Looking for a college? You may search like this in the near future…

  • [colleges on the west coast with tuition under $30,000]

What’s going on in San Jose tonight?

  • [events in San Jose]

There is far reaching opportunity for Google to use Metaweb to provide great answers without a user ever leaving their domain. This is what worries me. How much content will they take for themselves and will websites suffer for it with dwindling traffic numbers?

Metaweb’s data is hosted on a separately branded community site called Freebase. I tried to sign up, but registrations are currently closed.

Google does mention that Freebase (all that data from Metaweb) will remain open to the public. So, you should definitely check it out and support the cause. There is also a wiki for Freebase developer tools.

A free and open database for the world’s knowledge sounds like a phenomenal resource for business and web development. I can imagine countless new applications connected to this data and the social web.

Update: The following video is an astounding Freebase search project called Parallax. It is a new way to explore data and integrate it simultaneously from multiple Metaweb data sources.

While I’m still playing the conspiracy theorist (it’s all this UFO buzz), I believe Freebase may cut into web traffic of some individuals and businesses. Google started something similar with Knol a few years ago; I’m not sure how well it’s doing now.

Popular destinations like WikiPedia, IMDB and who knows what else may soon have smart competition with a major home-field advantage.

Regardless of how it turns out, I respect Google for bringing innovative web ideas to fruition. I hope they continue to recognize their users are creating great content and personal answers that deserve to be found.


About Mark Fulton

Mark is the Founder of DotSauce Magazine and a full time web developer, domain investor, SEO and online marketing professional residing in North Carolina, USA. Visit MarkFulton.com for information on freelance website development, SEO and consultation services.