How Semantic search will affect Small Business Owners
“Real search is about providing valuable information when it’s really needed to those who are actually looking for it.” – David Amerland, Google Semantic Search
Back on the 1st June I started my job as a content marketer at Veeqo. Before I started this new stage in my career I retreated to the serenity of the Gower Peninsula in Swansea and read David Amerland’s book Google Semantic Search.
Amerland states a simple but effective point at the start of the book “search is changing” and this will affect how people find your services. So, where do small business owners come into this equation? And what can they do pro-actively to stay in touch with these changing times.
Long gone are the days of link exchanges, paper thin content and keyword stuffing. Amerland eloquently points out that the “first page on Google” is now almost obsolete, despite what business owners may have been told.
Therefore, understanding how semantic search works is the only way to enhance your web-presence and improve your organic search rankings, whether you decide to outsource this work or not.
Good news, there’s nothing technical about it!
The good news is that despite its name, there is nothing technical to semantic search. What semantic search means is that Google is now able to extract contextual meaning and intent from a searcher. Essentially they are delivering answers, when previously they just delivered links.
At this point, how this is done isn’t entirely important, if you would like more technical reading on this subject i’d recommend this article from Bill Slawski. We will focus on how you can work this in your favour.
When people search the internet there has become a growing expectation that information should be immediate. More than 80% of internet users now own a smartphone and this has been reflected in Google’s developments such as the introduction of predictive search through Google Now and Google Voice Search.
How staying local is important
The relationship between smartphones and locality has had a massive impact when it comes to semantic search. Go back more than 10 years and a search for “where is the best pizza place in New York?” would have brought up the first site that crammed that phrase as many times as possible into its back end.
With semantic search, search engines have evolved to understand it as a question, Almost as if you were having a conversation with a person. Within 2 seconds of typing the phrase, Google will have identified the question, established your location and returned relevant results with directions, reviews, open times and contact details. Very impressive when you think so literally about it. It begs the question, what is the next developement from Google on this? I’d be interested to get your opinions.
Because of this Amerland states that you need to be providing as much information as possible, “It’s no longer enough to have a “Contact Page”. You now also need to have a Google Maps listing, a Google Business Page, reviews, mentions, citations, photographs, videos and podcasts”.
As search engines advance, and they invariably will, we will no doubt see further developments in regards to localized search that will allow you to develop your brand.
What are you searching for?
In order for Google to display the most relevant results they use a process by which the information displayed is determined by the importance of it to that specific user.
Within those 2 seconds, Google takes into account a number of factors that include previous search history, information stored on you (YouTube, Google+), location, global search history and external links from articles on the same topic.
To use an example, if we searched for “Rio” this could bring results back for a city in Brazil, an animated film, a Duran Duran song or former professional footballer Rio Ferdinand.
Interestingly when I entered “Rio”, I was presented firstly with “Rio Ferdinand”, which makes sense based on my previous searches. My boss, tried the same thing and was presented with the film, this could be due to the fact that he has 2 children and has admitted to searching for animated films in the past.
Next I tested the ‘global search history’ theory. As I am UK based, a simple search for “David” brought up the big story at the moment “David Cameron Pig” that Google would think i’d be interested in. Not a story for the easily offended, if you aren’t already aware of it.
What does this mean for my marketing?
So with these new developments, what does this mean for your marketing and the content that you produce? Simply you need to create content that will easy to find. If it can be easily understood, then this is beneficial when search engines are scouring your site.
Also importantly there should be some context to it. Like in my example, if you were writing a piece about Rio the city, mention words associated with him to help Google understand it better such as “Brazil”, “South America” and “Copacabana” throughout the piece.
Although they are still important, keywords aren’t what they were and quality hold is key. It’s important that you are writing for humans first and search engines second. However using tools such as Google’s Keyword Planner tool and searching for related searches can help you generating relevant keywords to place in your article.
As briefly mentioned linking to similar external content will not only strengthen the quality of your post, but it will also help Google identify the subject matter and will boost its presence through search engines.
It’s said that social media will become a more important feature in semantic search, in regards to organic search. The recent search ranking factors from Moz suggests this is the case. Therefore if you create a high quality piece, this is more likely to get shared. Check out my presentation on how we use Buzzstream and Buzzsumo to increase shares of our articles.
As a small business owner you need to integrate your offline and online affairs and take into mind the ways in which people could possibly find out about your business.
Telling your company’s story, interacting on social media and producing good quality content are the big SEO factors of today. A willingness to keep up to date and learn about the subject will keep you in good shape when it comes to your online presence.
As mentioned earlier I would fully recommend David Amerlands book if you want learn more on the subjects of social signal, Google’s knowledge graph and particularly the part on the 10 SEO techniques that no longer work.