I’ve just recently finished reading a book by David Amerland called Google Semantic Search.
If you want a better understanding of the direction SEO is heading; and you want to know how to be successful with your SEO strategies, this is a great book to read.
What’s clear is that SEO is changing and many of the old techniques for success aren’t going to work in the world of Semantic search.
So what is Semantic Search?
Put simply it’s a more intelligent and sophisticated form of search. It’s about finding the precise answers that we want when we make a search. Getting rid of any ambiguity and probability from search results.
It’s about search thinking more like a human being by understanding the intent of each user and the ability to understand the meaning and context to the words, terms and symbols we use when searching on the internet.
Why is this important?
SEO has had an image problem in the past.
For many businesses and marketeers the focus for SEO has always been on ranking results. Ranking was the be all and end all in SEO.
Although lots of people followed the guidelines set out by Google explaining the best strategies for a successful search results. Unsurprisingly many others engaged in more dubious practices.
People tried to cheat or ‘game’ the system by getting their website to artificially rank higher on Search Engine Result Pages (SERP).
For years Google has been in battle with those people who have tried to cheat and manipulate the system. The introduction of Semantic search is about Google saying this war is over!
Dodgy SEO practices are not only wrong but they aren’t going to work anymore.
The knowledge Graph
I’d never heard of this term until I started reading this book, but it’s a term you need to know about to understand Semantic search.
The knowledge graph is about Google taking our search queries and understanding them in the way a human might. It does this by understanding the connections and associations between different data or indexed content on the web.
Amerland gives two examples on how the Knowledge Graph works. Firstly he looks at the term ‘Rio’ which could refer to the city in Brazil, the film or hotel in Las Vegas.
When searching for the term, Semantic search looks to see what our intent is for this search. Are we looking for the city or the film? It looks at all the content associated with the search term to provide a number of possible answers
Amerland highlights that the results were different when he was logged into his Google account. Google took into account his earlier search history when delivering its search results.
This is something I’ve noticed when I do searches. Google remembers what search terms I’ve used before. Following on from this Amerland looks at the search term ‘Da Vinci’ as in the artist to show how the knowledge graph works.
When Da Vinci is used as a search term, Google doesn’t just look for information related to the artist. It looks at artists and sculptors who have a connection with Da Vinci – connecting the dots so to speak.
Amerland argues Google cross references different information on a subject and then makes inferences on the kind of answers we may have been looking for.
If you take this on a step further and think about how we might search for an individual or business; when we conduct a search the results will collate information from all over the web.
This will include content found on websites, social networks, professional networks and profiles. Semantic search will look at what all this information means and how it relates to our search.
What does this all mean for writers/content creators?
After reading this book and thinking about everything I’ve been hearing about the future of SEO. I think Semantic search is great news for content creators.
In the past, SEO strategies focussed more on keywords and link building. These still matter but the future of SEO is more about creating useful, interesting and engaging content.
You could argue that’s what Google has always wanted, but with less rewards available for ‘gaming’ the system. Good content is becoming more important for a successful SEO strategy.
It probably explains why content marketing is so fashionable these days. You have to create content that gives your user a great experience.
You want to write and create content that gets people talking about you on blogs, social networks. Sharing your content amongst their online communities and networks. You want to be part of the conversation.
Semantic search will take all of this activity into account. Creating content that’s valued and shared will identify you or your business as an authority within your specialist field. Authority generates trust.
Semantic search now means that Google can apply a value judgement on whether your content and website is trusted or seen to be an authority. All this now matters when it comes to SEO.
All this is just a brief summary of the complex world of Semantic search, but Google Semantic Search is a really accessible and interesting read on everything you need to know when it comes to the new rules of SEO and content creation.