Google Semantic Search: The Future of SEO

Oct 3, 2012   //   by Netword Plus   //   Our Blog  //  No Comments
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When creating a new website—for an existing business or when launching a start up—you may be tempted to rush through the process of creating your site URL and content. But these choices are vital to the growth of your business. Google has recently been quite candid about their ranking process, even offering tips and suggestions. They even offer tips in the form of video tutorials on how to master search engine optimization. While Google’s express instructions are essential in understanding optimization and keyword density—including keywords in your URL structure, optimizing content, coding searchable links, and meta tagging—these general guidelines may soon change. Recently, Google announced that they are slowly phasing out the traditional keyword approach, and are transitioning to a more sophisticated model of ‘semantic searching.’

GOOGLE GAINS ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

Semantic searching was one of many changes that came as a part of the latest “Penguin” update to Google’s algorithm. A semantic search is a way of understanding the intent behind the search rather than just matching the keywords. Previously, if you typed words into a Google search, Google would match it to the most searchable keywords you typed. Now, after Penguin, Google is able to discern the relationship between those words—in a sort of artificial intelligence—to understand what those words mean. Through semantic searching, Google understands that when certain words are placed together, the meaning changes.

The Google Knowledge Graph supports semantic searches by gathering an amalgam of information that points to possible answers for popular queries. Not only does Google “artificially” interpret the search but the Knowledge Graph gives it more contextual information about it as opposed to the former “related Web sites” option.

THE FUTURE OF SEO AS WE KNOW IT…

Through semantic searching, Google has fanned the flames of healthy competition in terms of its ability to rank competitor Web sites. While in the past it was very easy to play with keywords to give your site an edge—a very searchable term can increase your rank whether it is directly related to your business or not—semantic searching isn’t be so easy to finagle. In order to increase your rank in a semantic search, you actually have to decipher the meaning behind your keywords and create the content around it. A semantics keyword query will focus on what that person actually means rather than only the text. Subsequently, when framing your keyword content, you no longer simply have to use searchable terms, you have to ask yourself: how does this answer a query about my company?

Also because of the Knowledge Graph support system, Google no longer needs to rely on another website to provide information. Thus, the competition gets crowded because you are now competing for ranking against other companies and you are competing with Google for attention.

NATURAL, RELEVANT KEYWORDS

Maile Ohye, developer advocate on Google’s Webmaster Central Team, offers some great advice, “It’s great to have a fancy site, but try not to focus so much on site fanciness that you don’t actually have indexable and searchable text. You want to use relevant keywords naturally in your text. These keywords are like query terms that normal people would use to find your product or your business.” She also offers a valuable warning, “Don’t participate in link schemes or buying links for the purpose of passing PageRank.”

While this advice may sound clear and understandable, it is astonishing how often web developers and designers ignore it. When developing websites for our clients, we focus on including important keywords as naturally as possible, in a way that’s designed for a fluid, beneficial user experience. That way, your site meets Google’s requirements for Page 1 status, and impresses your site visitors with great design and informative writing that inspires them to give you a call or buy your products.

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