Semantic Search: The Future of Search Engine Optimization

Semantic search” seeks to improve search accuracy by understanding searcher intent and the contextual meaning of terms as they appear in the searchable dataspace, whether on the Web or within a closed system, to generate more relevant results. – Mashable

semantic searchThe average user may not realize it, but the power of search engines is quickly increasing the value of a company’s online presence. As Eli Pariser suggests in his TED Talks lecture, search engines are using more than 57 signals to personalize search query results to better service the interests of each user.

In an article published by Search Engine Watch, Eric Enge suggests that Google+ is using personalization to impact organic search rankings based on content users have +1’ed and their settings. Erin Everhart, Director of Web and Social Media Marketing at 352 Media Group, suggests that Google’s search results are “driven by keywords” and that marketers should give a great deal of attention to on-page search engine optimization techniques.

In this case, on-page search engine optimization would include keyword optimization, title tag optimization, meta tag and descriptions, alt tag, content and image optimization to ensure that the client’s content shows up in semantic search results.

In the past, optimizing your keywords for local search by simply including geo-targeting terms and phrases was considered “good practice,” but in her article published by Search Engine Watch, Krista LaRiviere suggests that consumers’ behavior changes require marketers and web designers to give additional consideration to:

  • The keywords used;
  • How the content is consumed;
  • Who is searching for and consuming the content;
  • Their stage in the buying cycle; and,
  • Conversion rate differences.

There is a clear shift in how marketers and web designers are approaching search engine optimization. Everhart’s Mashable article suggests that semantic search uses “artificial intelligence to understand the searcher’s intent and the meaning of the query.” This suggestion is supported by the fact that there has been a noticeable increase in mobile browsing and voice search usage, which indicates that consumers are searching for potential products and services now more than ever.

According to Everhart, “in order to rank well in semantic search, you don’t just have to put your keywords in the right places, you have to figure out the actual meaning behind those keywords and create content around that specifically.”

From a marketing standpoint, this new type of search can certainly increase one’s ability to engage and attract consumers to your storefront. If one takes the time to not just investigate the demographic information, but also the behavioral data that indicate key conversions activities, they can tailor public relations and marketing outputs to better suit their needs.

For example, a Google+ page is a great tool to have in your social media plan. It not only generates a Google-sponsored webpage for your business, but shares key information about your company in Google search engine results. One can quickly find your company location, hours of operation, a quick list of services, and acceptable forms of payment at a glance.

Although a Google+ page is more social media tool, it also doubles as a resource for paid-per-click advertising using Google AdWords, the photos uploaded to the page appear in Google Search, and users can share blog content on their Google+ page—boosting their credibility with Google Authorship. I truly look forward to reading more about the future of search engine optimization and how semantic search will improve search query results.

Suggested Reading

Image courtesy of paco_calvino

Yasheaka Oakley Owens

Yasheaka Oakley Owens is the owner of YOakleyPR, a woman-owned small business that provides public relations, social media, and online marketing support services to small businesses and 501(c)(3) nonprofit organizations in Southeastern Pennsylvania, Southern New Jersey and Delaware.

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