Google’s Semantic Search changes coming soon…and what this means for you

My previous post talked about Google’s impending introduction of semantic search into the algorithm, and how Google is trying to understand what an actual search query is trying to find out from the search terms used – the intent and the context of the query.

What are the effects?

For Users: This is great news for search engine users. When you ask a question, instead of being presented with a list of links to sources that can answer that question, Google will answer it right for you on the SERP, without the need for the user to visit a website. Google results will become more relevant and useful, and searchers will continue to use Google.

For Google: Google wants to provide the most relevant information to its searchers, but they also want to make money. Google is a for-profit business after-all and the more users that stay on their site without clicking off to another site, the better it is for their revenues.

For Marketers: For those who have spent years working on their SEO, following Google’s rules, this isn’t good news, especially if a large portion of the site’s organic traffic comes from searches for people and places etc. For example, information that is on your website will be shown directly on the SERP, and with the question already answered, the user has no need to click any further. The example below shows how results from wikipedia.org, answers.com and zimbio.com are shown in the top spot on Google, negating the need for further click-through.

Google’s Semantic Search Changes

What you need to do

There are some things that you as online marketers can do to keep on top of the algorithm updates, and to effectively drive your online and digital marketing efforts.

  • The key point with semantic search is that it’s no longer going to be just about putting the right keywords in the right places – now you are going to have to figure out the meaning behind the keywords, and put them into the context of what the user is looking for. What questions could users ask around your keywords? For example, if someone was to search for “swimming” they might want to know where they can go swimming locally, or how to swim, or different strokes etc. Create your content around answering these questions, not just focusing on the keywords.
  • On-page optimization techniques (structuring the page so that it can be found by search engines) should be your priority, which is something Mediative has always emphasized. Google’s algorithm update further solidifies that requirement.
  • Mark up your site with proper micro-formatting to tag data and entities for Google to understand and collect as it crawls your site, thus ensuring you are part of Google’s Knowledge Graph.
  • It might also be time to start an FAQ page on your site, if you don’t already have one. As the saying goes, if you can’t beat them, join them! Provide answers to questions that searchers might ask about your products, services, location and be sure to mark up these entities for Google.
  • Establish a plan for driving traffic to you site from other channels such as social and mobile.

Mediative will be hosting a webinar in May on the future of search and how these changes from Google are creating a new search landscape. Stay tuned for more details.