Semantic Search: The Present State and a Look to the Future

Semantic Search

In the old days, being successful at SEO was based around writing relevant content and then “building links” to that content.  The path to success was pretty straightforward, but it was geared mostly towards “keyword” based searches.

Well it’s no secret Google keeps getting smarter, and in doing so, changing the way the semantic search game is played.

In May 2012, they announced the release of the Knowledge graph with the purpose of tying together information to present it in an interactive way. They recently followed this up with Hummingbird, a game-changing algorithm that has moved search towards user intent and away from keyword saturated pages.

All this begs the question: How do I ensure my website is ready for the future of semantic search?

Here are some key points on how to make sure your website is not only optimally prepared for Google, but for your desired users as well.

1. Activity is Everything

Step one towards conquering semantic search is being active online. Google wants to see that you are participating in your online community and actively engaging with your customers.  Social media and blogs are great ways to enhance your audience engagement.

2. Use Structured Data to Your Advantage

Structured Data is another way of saying “Standardized Code.” When using structured data, you present information to Google that defines what it is you are talking about. An example of this would be providing your address or a review of your products. When this information is presented to Google, your listing on Google’s result page can actually look different in order to reflect this information.

3. Author Your Success

This ties in with structured data, but is important enough to mention on its own. Authorship is a way for Google to tie a person (an Author, if you will) with the content on a website. It has been reported that a website with an authorship markup can see an increase in click through rate of over 30%.

4. Stay Fresh and Original

As previously, keyword centered website development and SEO was the norm for many years. While being relevant for keywords is still important, it is also very important to think about anything your target audience could search for. This involves including synonyms in your content and answering questions. It’s about making sure you mention other areas of your website, such as blog posts, that can answer any related questions.

5. Always Think About Your Users

If you think about your end user, are they more likely to visit your website on a mobile device?  With mobile usage continuously on the rise, this is a clear indicator of the way search is moving. Is there opportunity to provide information based on their location or language? Thinking about your end user will give you the leg up you need to win with semantic search.

As you can see, not only is Google getting smarter, but users are getting more sophisticated every day. If you want to continue to succeed online, it starts with asking yourself: “Am I delivering the right information to my end user in the easiest way for them to view it?” If your answer is anything other than a resounding “Yes,” it is time to start thinking about changing your approach.

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