4 min read
The web, which started out with static content built by individual masterminds, is changing quickly.
Over the last few years, companies like Google have been striving to raise their game and bring their products into the realm of artificial intelligence.
This push dovetails with the desire of consumers for personalized, interactive content and the desire of marketers to provide it. However, even today’s most customized content is still driven by a long and time-consuming planning process from an individual or team.
As it matures, AI stands to change that. New tools driven by machine intelligence will have the power to assess a user’s individual needs and furnish the right content instantly: Even if that means combining existing content and resources in totally novel ways.
Semantic search isn’t the dawn of the robot future, but it’s one step in the right direction.
Semantic Search Changes the Game for Digital Marketers
At its heart, semantic search is the idea that Google should be able to identify and serve the right content at the right moment even if the user or content doesn’t use the “right” keywords.
The details of how, exactly, Google does this could fill an encyclopedia – and, of course, we don’t have all of them. That said, we know semantic search algorithms use fundamental ideas from computer science to build a web of associations around individual words.
These associations allow Google to take a guess at the basic intent behind a query, even if the user’s phrasing isn’t quite what the system is used to when handling the question at hand. Thus, queries can be matched to content even when the terms the user entered aren’t found on the page.
This is undeniably a convenience for users, who don’t have to sit around guessing at the precise magic words (or secret code) they need to get their hands on the information they want.
Easily overlooked in the equation is this: Semantic search also helps marketers.
Not only does it back them in delivering the right content to their audience, but it makes the whole process simpler and more intuitive – since keyword research is no longer the be-all, end-all determinant of whether content connects with those who need it.
For organizations, semantic enrichment means:
- Using a wide variety of related terms to make content pieces more discoverable.
- Implementing metadata consistently to show relationships between content pieces.
- Structuring content so the underlying questions and responses are more obvious.
- Focusing on natural language with a conversational, one-to-one brand voice.
Six Benefits of Semantic Search for Digital Marketers
To be successful, content has to be discoverable. That’s the big challenge that semantic search is driving at. When you see how it plays out in practice, you’ll soon realize its enormous potential.
There are six major benefits of semantic search to be aware of:
It Ends the Tyranny of Keywords
Although your digital marketing strategy should always begin with keyword research, keywords are no longer the only fuel that propels your rocket.
Yes, you should always build a list of target keywords based on your buyer personas, but keep your main focus on the content itself.
It Broadens Your Organic Reach
Because your traffic flow isn’t solely dependent on the handful of keywords you optimize for, semantic enrichment will help you find all kinds of new organic traffic opportunities.
Keep an eye out for these in your favorite data analytics suite and expand your keyword strategy accordingly.
It Gives You More Insights
Since natural language semantic processing provides a much better reflection of how your users actually express their queries, it will tell you more about them.
Subtle differences in how queries are phrased show changes in your leads’ thinking and habits over time, which can inform your approach.
It Gives Users More Data
Semantic search broadens Google’s perspective to help it identify related content across all kinds of contexts.
Things like tagging and linking related content within and across sites can now be handled partially through machine learning, so users can continue to follow a thought to its end.
It Surfaces Better Data
Google’s overall goal remains consistent throughout everything it does: Generate better, more relevant, more useful results for end users.
Semantic search helps do that, broadly aligning the user experience so people can tap into the collective wisdom of the web more easily.
It Can Be Used on Paid Search
The power of semantic search isn’t limited to organic traffic.
Google wants to orchestrate a total content ecosystem that brings video, shopping, and many other elements together seamlessly: Semantic enrichment is active and valuable across all these different modes.
It’s not just semantics: The power of semantic search will serve you well as you build a digital strategy your users can count on.
Make it part of your content planning today.
Published on July 23, 2018