Is semantic search a good or bad thing for your business?

If your website has just recovered from the infamous Penguin and Panda updates then you might think you’re home free but I’m sorry to tell you that the bad times might not be over because semantic search is here to stir things up. Designed to provide users with better, more relevant search results, semantic search uses artificial intelligence to try and work out exactly what kind of results the searcher is looking for based on their search stream.

As you’ve probably guessed – when it comes to search these days, semantics are now starting to play a big part. Gone are the days when Google’s robots interpreted each key word in your search string separately – they’re now starting to look at the key phrase as a whole, and most importantly trying to determine the relationships between the key words in each phrase. By looking at the semantics of each key word and the relationships between each word in the phrase, Google hope to be able to better determine the kind of results you’re actually looking to find.

But hasn’t semantic search been around for a while? Well yes and no. Search engines have been trying to get a handle on this kind of search for years (Baidu claim to be the best), but it’s only in the past few months that we’ve seen a tangible push towards semantic search with the release of Google’s Knowledge Graph in May.

While it’s great that Google’s trying to crack down on ubiquitous sites that somehow force their way to the top of the SERPs, semantic search is yet another obstacle online business owners need to try and get a handle on if they rely on Google for the majority of their site traffic. Rather than just focusing on keywords and producing content around them, online business owners need to try and work out what kind of thing searchers might be looking for around their keywords and apply this to their content strategy – this can often be easier said than done. For example, while niche phrases like “extra large cat flap” will have a limited number of meanings and content variations, the possibilities can be endless for more general phrases like “office chair”.

Of course, if online business owners truly know their customer base and industry as well as they claim to and they’ve produced a content-rich website that truly appeals to all searchers in their industry, semantic search should help to boost their traffic and site authority – on the other hand, online business owners that have a fairly one-dimensional site might want to consider revising their content strategy before semantic search well and truly takes hold.

Article by Amy at Bubble Jobs (www.bubble-jobs.co.uk).

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