fbpx

 Source: This article was published forbes.com By Jayson DeMers - Contributed by Member: William A. Woods

Some search optimizers like to complain that “Google is always changing things.” In reality, that’s only a half-truth; Google is always coming out with new updates to improve its search results, but the fundamentals of SEO have remained the same for more than 15 years. Only some of those updates have truly “changed the game,” and for the most part, those updates are positive (even though they cause some major short-term headaches for optimizers).

Today, I’ll turn my attention to semantic search, a search engine improvement that came along in 2013 in the form of the Hummingbird update. At the time, it sent the SERPs into a somewhat chaotic frenzy of changes but introduced semantic search, which transformed SEO for the better—both for users and for marketers.

What Is Semantic Search?

I’ll start with a briefer on what semantic search actually is, in case you aren’t familiar. The so-called Hummingbird update came out back in 2013 and introduced a new way for Google to consider user-submitted queries. Up until that point, the search engine was built heavily on keyword interpretation; Google would look at specific sequences of words in a user’s query, then find matches for those keyword sequences in pages on the internet.

Search optimizers built their strategies around this tendency by targeting specific keyword sequences, and using them, verbatim, on as many pages as possible (while trying to seem relevant in accordance with Panda’s content requirements).

Hummingbird changed this. Now, instead of finding exact matches for keywords, Google looks at the language used by a searcher and analyzes the searcher’s intent. It then uses that intent to find the most relevant search results for that user’s intent. It’s a subtle distinction, but one that demanded a new approach to SEO; rather than focusing on specific, exact-match keywords, you had to start creating content that addressed a user’s needs, using more semantic phrases and synonyms for your primary targets.

Voice Search and Ongoing Improvements

Of course, since then, there’s been an explosion in voice search—driven by Google’s improved ability to recognize spoken words, its improved search results, and the increased need for voice searches with mobile devices. That, in turn, has fueled even more advances in semantic search sophistication.

One of the biggest advancements, an update called RankBrain, utilizes an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm to better understand the complex queries that everyday searchers use, and provide more helpful search results.

Why It's Better for Searchers

So why is this approach better for searchers?

  • Intuitiveness. Most of us have already taken for granted how intuitive searching is these days; if you ask a question, Google will have an answer for you—and probably an accurate one, even if your question doesn’t use the right terminology, isn’t spelled correctly, or dances around the main thing you’re trying to ask. A decade ago, effective search required you to carefully calculate which search terms to use, and even then, you might not find what you were looking for.
  • High-quality results. SERPs are now loaded with high-quality content related to your original query—and oftentimes, a direct answer to your question. Rich answers are growing in frequency, in part to meet the rising utility of semantic search, and it’s giving users faster, more relevant answers (which encourages even more search use on a daily basis).
  • Content encouragement. The nature of semantic search forces searches optimizers and webmasters to spend more time researching topics to write about and developing high-quality content that’s going to serve search users’ needs. That means there’s a bigger pool of content developers than ever before, and they’re working harder to churn out readable, practical, and in-demand content for public consumption.

Why It's Better for Optimizers

The benefits aren’t just for searchers, though—I’d argue there are just as many benefits for those of us in the SEO community (even if it was an annoying update to adjust to at first):

  • Less pressure on keywords. Keyword research has been one of the most important parts of the SEO process since search first became popular, and it’s still important to gauge the popularity of various search queries—but it isn’t as make-or-break as it used to be. You no longer have to ensure you have exact-match keywords at exactly the right ratio in exactly the right number of pages (an outdated concept known as keyword density); in many cases, merely writing about the general topic is incidentally enough to make your page relevant for your target.
  • Value Optimization. Search optimizers now get to spend more time optimizing their content for user value, rather than keyword targeting. Semantic search makes it harder to accurately predict and track how keywords are specifically searched for (and ranked for), so we can, instead, spend that effort on making things better for our core users.
  • Wiggle room. Semantic search considers synonyms and alternative wordings just as much as it considers exact match text, which means we have far more flexibility in our content. We might even end up optimizing for long-tail phrases we hadn’t considered before.

The SEO community is better off focusing on semantic search optimization, rather than keyword-specific optimization. It’s forcing content producers to produce better, more user-serving content, and relieving some of the pressure of keyword research (which at times is downright annoying).

Take this time to revisit your keyword selection and content strategies, and see if you can’t capitalize on these contextual queries even further within your content marketing strategy.

Categorized in Search Engine

Search is changing. It is now more personal, more engaging, more interactive and more predictive. SERPs no longer display just 10 blue links — they have become more useful and more visually appealing across all device types.

Semantic search is at the forefront of these changes, as evidenced most recently by the launch of Google’s new Hummingbird algorithm. Beginning with user intent and interpretation of the query itself, semantic technology is used to refine the query, extract entities as answers, personalize search results, predict search queries and more — providing a more interactive, conversational or dialogue-based search result.

With Hummingbird, Google is moving further along its trajectory of becoming the “Star Trek Computer,” or at least a very powerful answer engine. But how can you make sure you’re reaping the benefits of all semantic search has to offer?

5 Ways To Unlock The Benefits of Semantic Search

Understanding how semantic search works at a conceptual level — as well as understanding where it is going — is the key to your ability to leverage it. Below are five ways to unlock the benefits of semantic search.

Understanding is Key to leveraging SearchUnderstanding is Key to Leverage/Unlock Semantic Search

1. Optimize For User Intent

As I wrote in my recent article about Google Hummingbird, Google is using “form based” or “template” queries to answer questions at scale in real time. You can see this evidenced clearly in a recent patent, “Interactive Query Completion Templates,” published in September. Compare Figures 3 and 4 from the patent to an actual example from Google Instant:

google-interactive-query-completion-templatesgoogle-instant-flights

You can see here that the “form based query” or “template query” is expressed as:

Flights from ?loc1 to ?loc2

 Where ?loc1 and ?loc2 are entities of type “city” (or “airport”).

Airport as defined in Schema.orgAirport as defined in Schema.org

How might you use this information to optimize for user intent? Well, let’s say you are in the travel industry and you have offerings that would apply to someone traveling to ?loc2, (e.g., tourist attractions or some sort of event). You might want to make sure your page content includes that destination (entity or city or airport) as well as activities and items geared toward the interest of your target audience.

The patent also lists several examples of query template categories, including “language translation, stock price information, map information, navigational information, news information, weather information, travel information, or dictionary definitions.” Check out the examples below of measurement conversion.

Interactive Query Completion Templates For Measurement ConversionInteractive Query Completion Templates For Measurement Conversion

The patent itself relates to information retrieval, as once the query template or form is correctly identified, the query results or answers can be easily and rapidly retrieved by the search engine (or answer engine). It is also by no means restricted to the above mentioned categories.

Google Patent: US 20130226953 A1: Interactive Query Completion TemplatesGoogle Patent: US 20130226953 A1: Interactive Query Completion Templates

So, for those so inclined, happy patent reading! 

2. Align Your SEO Campaign With Your Social Media Campaign

Personalized search is retrieving accurate answers for a given user — for example, when you are at the airport, you can ask Google Now what gate your flight is departing from, what the traffic is like on the way home, etc.

Personal Search Plus Your WorldPersonal Search Plus Your World

Search “across my world” or “across my user profile” is also becoming more prominent. This suggests that paying attention to social search is becoming more and more critical, and that social media is playing a larger role in search results, sending strong signals to the search engines. Leveraging (and discovering) your target audience’s interest graph is key to producing content that will bring them to your website.

I recently presented at SMX East on how SEO and Social teams can no longer operate separately. Why? Because social media is playing an ever-more important role in SEO, and it has the potential to be disruptive to the status quo.

In other words, identify your social audience and their interests. Write content that covers those interests, your offerings, and the intersection thereof. You can find a great example here, detailing how Virgin leveraged big data to create an interest graph, thereby creating a more targeted content strategy.

3. Ensure You Leverage Google+ Appropriately & Fully

Google+ is critical when it comes to how Google will view your business (and you, too, if you elect to create a profile for yourself). With regard to Google+ for business, here is a great and comprehensive resource from Simply Business.

Google plus Guide for Small Business - by GoogleGoogle Plus Guide for Small Business (by Simply Business)

Also be sure to leverage rel = author and rel = publisher where appropriate. For rel = author, Google very clearly states its usage guidelines here.

4. Mark Up Your Pages With The Appropriate Semantic Markup

Ensure your webpages employ structured data markup, paying special attention to markup vocabulary from schema.org, as that is recognized by most major search engines at this point in time.

There are several great new tools currently available to assist with the process of adding this HTML markup to your pages, including various WordPress plugins and code snippet generators (including Google’s own Structured Data Markup Helper). There is also a new release of RDFace, announced at ISWC 2013 this month, with a special edition for schema.org. Feel free to give it a whirl!

5. Use Standard SEO Techniques

The standard SEO techniques that applied previously are still in play, such as:

  • Optimized page load times,
  • Optimized sitemaps and website architecture,
  • Cross-platform optimization

The last one is more important than ever with the rise of mobile devices, especially since sites that offer a poor mobile experience may find themselves hurting in mobile rankings.

Conclusion/Takeaways

Cross pollination is key. As you can see, Social, SEO, SEM, Semantic Web/Semantic Computing need to cooperate and coexist as a synergistic team. Just as cross pollination within a technology team will accelerate the pace of innovation, cross pollination of these skills within a team will enable your team to keep pace with the necessary changes to attract your desired traffic to your website.

The end of the 10 blue links, and the move to a more media-oriented, interactive type of Semantic Search does not mean there is no more SEO. There are definitely finite mechanisms and steps an SEO team can take to optimize a website in a Semantic Search World.

The move to Question Answering systems, predictive search/queries, personalized search and a more dialogue- or conversational-based answer mechanism in the search engines simply means a change in strategy, and those who embrace the change will reap the rewards.

This article was  published in searchengineland.com by Barbara Starr

Categorized in Search Engine

Search is changing. It is now more personal, more engaging, more interactive and more predictive. SERPs no longer display just 10 blue links — they have become more useful and more visually appealing across all device types.

Semantic search is at the forefront of these changes, as evidenced most recently by the launch of Google’s new Hummingbird algorithm. Beginning with user intent and interpretation of the query itself, semantic technology is used to refine the query, extract entities as answers, personalize search results, predict search queries and more — providing a more interactive, conversational or dialogue-based search result.

With Hummingbird, Google is moving further along its trajectory of becoming the “Star Trek Computer,” or at least a very powerful answer engine. But how can you make sure you’re reaping the benefits of all semantic search has to offer?

5 Ways To Unlock The Benefits of Semantic Search

Understanding how semantic search works at a conceptual level — as well as understanding where it is going — is the key to your ability to leverage it. Below are five ways to unlock the benefits of semantic search.

Understanding is Key to Leverage/Unlock Semantic Search

1. Optimize For User Intent

As I wrote in my recent article about Google Hummingbird, Google is using “form based” or “template” queries to answer questions at scale in real time. You can see this evidenced clearly in a recent patent, “Interactive Query Completion Templates,” published in September. Compare Figures 3 and 4 from the patent to an actual example from Google Instant:

google-interactive-query-completion-templatesgoogle-instant-flights

You can see here that the “form based query” or “template query” is expressed as:

Flights from ?loc1 to ?loc2

 Where ?loc1 and ?loc2 are entities of type “city” (or “airport”).

Airport as defined in Schema.org

Airport as defined in Schema.org

How might you use this information to optimize for user intent? Well, let’s say you are in the travel industry and you have offerings that would apply to someone traveling to ?loc2, (e.g., tourist attractions or some sort of event). You might want to make sure your page content includes that destination (entity or city or airport) as well as activities and items geared toward the interest of your target audience.

The patent also lists several examples of query template categories, including “language translation, stock price information, map information, navigational information, news information, weather information, travel information, or dictionary definitions.” Check out the examples below of measurement conversion.

Interactive Query Completion Templates For Measurement Conversion

Interactive Query Completion Templates For Measurement Conversion

The patent itself relates to information retrieval, as once the query template or form is correctly identified, the query results or answers can be easily and rapidly retrieved by the search engine (or answer engine). It is also by no means restricted to the above mentioned categories.

Google Patent: US 20130226953 A1: Interactive Query Completion Templates

Google Patent: US 20130226953 A1: Interactive Query Completion Templates

So, for those so inclined, happy patent reading! 

2. Align Your SEO Campaign With Your Social Media Campaign

Personalized search is retrieving accurate answers for a given user — for example, when you are at the airport, you can ask Google Now what gate your flight is departing from, what the traffic is like on the way home, etc.

Personal Search Plus Your World

Personal Search Plus Your World

Search “across my world” or “across my user profile” is also becoming more prominent. This suggests that paying attention to social search is becoming more and more critical, and that social media is playing a larger role in search results, sending strong signals to the search engines. Leveraging (and discovering) your target audience’s interest graph is key to producing content that will bring them to your website.

In a recent Search Engine Land article, Warren Lee wrote:

I recently presented at SMX East on how SEO and Social teams can no longer operate separately. Why? Because social media is playing an ever-more important role in SEO, and it has the potential to be disruptive to the status quo.

In other words, identify your social audience and their interests. Write content that covers those interests, your offerings, and the intersection thereof. You can find a great example here, detailing how Virgin leveraged big data to create an interest graph, thereby creating a more targeted content strategy.

3. Ensure You Leverage Google+ Appropriately & Fully

Google+ is critical when it comes to how Google will view your business (and you, too, if you elect to create a profile for yourself). With regard to Google+ for business, here is a great and comprehensive resource from Simply Business.

Google plus Guide for Small Business - by Google

Google Plus Guide for Small Business (by Simply Business)

Also be sure to leverage rel = author and rel = publisher where appropriate. For rel = author, Google very clearly states its usage guidelines here.

4. Mark Up Your Pages With The Appropriate Semantic Markup

Ensure your webpages employ structured data markup, paying special attention to markup vocabulary from schema.org, as that is recognized by most major search engines at this point in time.

There are several great new tools currently available to assist with the process of adding this HTML markup to your pages, including various WordPress plugins and code snippet generators (including Google’s own Structured Data Markup Helper). There is also a new release of RDFace, announced at ISWC 2013 this month, with a special edition for schema.org. Feel free to give it a whirl!

5. Use Standard SEO Techniques

The standard SEO techniques that applied previously are still in play, such as:

  • Optimized page load times,
  • Optimized sitemaps and website architecture,
  • Cross-platform optimization

The last one is more important than ever with the rise of mobile devices, especially since sites that offer a poor mobile experience may find themselves hurting in mobile rankings.

Conclusion/Takeaways

Cross pollination is key. As you can see, Social, SEO, SEM, Semantic Web/Semantic Computing need to cooperate and coexist as a synergistic team. Just as cross pollination within a technology team will accelerate the pace of innovation, cross pollination of these skills within a team will enable your team to keep pace with the necessary changes to attract your desired traffic to your website.

The end of the 10 blue links, and the move to a more media-oriented, interactive type of Semantic Search does not mean there is no more SEO. There are definitely finite mechanisms and steps an SEO team can take to optimize a website in a Semantic Search World.

The move to Question Answering systems, predictive search/queries, personalized search and a more dialogue- or conversational-based answer mechanism in the search engines simply means a change in strategy, and those who embrace the change will reap the rewards.

Author : Barbara Starr

Source : http://searchengineland.com/5-ways-to-unlock-the-benefits-of-semantic-search-hummingbird-175634

Categorized in Search Engine

Semantic search is one of the term that often hear in search engine sphere nowadays. As the name suggest, semantic search is the way search engines improves the accuracy of a search by means of using not one but multiple resources to interpret the true intent of the searcher’s query. These multiple resources include user’s search history, location, query’s characteristics, and other factors that may further increase the relevance of results.

A product of innovation and ever-changing environment of search engines, the semantic search was developed to further enhance the search experience of the user. It was ages ago when search engines display exact-match blue link results on SERPs. Nowadays, search engines are fast becoming a more intuitive “answer engines” that seems to know who the searcher is, and what the searcher wants.

Tracing its origin, the concept of semantic search was originally deduced from semantic web, which is in its own nature, is built on ontologies, which is according to TechTarget, is the “ working model of entities and interactions in a particular domain of knowledge or practices. From this concept of the semantic web, search engines have been able to identify the semantic features of websites that can be considered to make relevant search results.

From its more complex structure, the foremost advantage that puts semantic search at a much higher level than traditional search is its accuracy. It goes beyond specific keywords; it also considers other factors that are relevant to the user and not to the query itself.

Google, for instance, considers factors such as the trending topics on the web, the searcher’s location, and if the user is signed-in to his Google account, all their information that are stored on all Google apps like YouTube and Google Plus.

There’s so much to learn about semantic search. Check this infographic from Digital Marketing Philippines as we have gathered some interesting facts about of the most talked about subject in the search engine sphere- the Semantic Search.

semantic-search-8-facts-you-should-know

Embedded from Digital Marketing Philippines.

Auhtor : Jomer Gregorio

Source : http://www.business2community.com/online-marketing/semantic-search-8-facts-know-infographic-01736131#exCybtpK4WX2Xt4I.97

Categorized in Market Research

airs logo

Association of Internet Research Specialists is the world's leading community for the Internet Research Specialist and provide a Unified Platform that delivers, Education, Training and Certification for Online Research.

Get Exclusive Research Tips in Your Inbox

Receive Great tips via email, enter your email to Subscribe.

Follow Us on Social Media