Question. Hi Jason, can you elaborate on what Google Semantic Search is and what is new or different about it in regards to the “new semantic web.”?
Oh the blogosphere! I have some strong feelings about this whole semantic search thing. It’s one of those situation in which there is a kernel of truth in it, but the bloggers throw the baby out with the bathwater (to mix some metaphors). The hype is much more than the reality, from an SEO perspective.
First, what is semantic search? Leaving aside the Ph.D. definitions, it is really about artificial intelligence, about making search engines more like Siri and making Siri more like a human, who can “infer” what you mean by what you say, and by what you said previously (context). So semantic search is really attempting to get the search engines to be like a person: able to understand context and ambiguity. An example would be:
“Siri” (or “Google”), I’m hungry.
OK, great. I found seven pizza restaurants near you. Do you want directions?
Yes, I want directions.
Ok here they are.
And here is parking nearby. I see that you like to eat Pizza with your girlfriend. Should I call her?
No, we broke up.
Oh, I see there are seven psychotherapists nearby, would you like an appointment?
So the first point is that semantic search (and the so-called Hummingbird algorithm) are baby steps towards an intuitive interchange between man and machine. The implication is then to create content that is contextual and relevant (good content).
Here’s where the baby is being thrown out with the bathwater. You have to understand that many bloggers are frustrated writers, and they’d like nothing better than to believe that really exciting, interesting prose will be making a come-back on the Web, over the clunky, keyword-heavy, structurally tagged prose that I teach in my classes on SEO.
That may be true, IN THE FUTURE, but it is NOT true now. For now, the old rules of SEO are still very much in force: weaving keywords into TITLE tags, H1, A HREFs, and IMAGE alts and having (overly heavy) keyword content. The synergy would be to start doing a better job of writing “like people talk” and including related words and phrases in your SEO prose, but for now keywords are still king, despite talk of semantic search and Hummingbird.
The hype has been much, much bigger than the reality in my humble opinion. We are still many many years away from HAL in 2001:
HAL: I’m afraid. I’m afraid, Dave. Dave, my mind is going. I can feel it. I can feel it. My mind is going. There is no question about it. I can feel it. I can feel it. I can …
So the take-aways are:
We are very, very early in this revolution – too early to jump on the semantic search bandwagon, in my humble opinion.
Got a question? Click this link to email Jason or call 888-993-1122. Dr. Jason McDonald is founder and Senior SEO / Social Media Director of the JM Internet Group. He teaches the SEO training classes for the group, and therefore provides most of the SEO tips for this blog. His goal with this blog is to provide an easy 'one-stop shop' for the busy marketer looking for tips, tricks, and secrets on how to get to the top of Google and Bing for free using proven SEO tactics. When not dreaming up SEO tips, Dr. McDonald lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with his wife, two dogs, a cat, four iguanas and twelve children (just kidding). Really you read down to the bio on this guy? Enjoy the blog.
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