Semantic Search Simplified
In our human language where individual words can mean multiple things, we humans interpret the meaning of a word through the contextual meaning. Semantic search is a technology that is striving to artificially interpret the meaning of individual words through its context. The goal of semantic search is to increase the relevancy in the SERPS (search engine results page) to bring the best answer through contextual meaning from the first search.
How Semantic Search Works
Includes user location
Anticipates the reasoning of the answer by drawing from highly trusted sources
Stores news articles from websites or blogs to put search context together
Stores images and image information for contextual meaning
Parses individual words into a meaning
How Semantic Search is Different
With Semantic Search the context of your inquiry relies on many more bits of information.
Google used to rely on keywords and returned to you exactly what you typed rather than what you actually wanted. Unscrupulous marketers stuffed their web pages with keywords causing unhappiness for the searcher because wildly and irrelevant answers were returned.
Before semantic search, if you typed in “White House Tour” because you wanted to visit the White House in DC, you could have landed on a porno site (www.whitehouse.net) stuffed with white house tour keywords. Google fixed the problem of getting wildly different answers by storing information and building semantic search technologies to change user answers.
If you type in “Bet on next President” today, semantic search can look at your IP address location, see that you are located in the US, understand today’s date, and returns with its best guess that you want betting sites or articles about people betting on the next US president.
Semantic Search is the answer to increasing relevancy in the SERPS.
ONE WORD SEARCHES
If you type in the term “Snow ” it can have several meanings. You may be looking for the rapper snow to read his lyrics. You could be looking for a definition. Snow can mean weather, or white specks on TV due to weak reception. It’s also slang for heroin or cocaine. It can also mean to defeat by a large margin, such as I was snowed in with all the messages from Presidential candidates. Or, to lie, as in I was snowed by his promises.
With one word searches, it is difficult to interpret your intent.
But if you type in “Snow Conditions”, and it’s February and you are located in the US, semantic search looks at things such as news articles, blogs, and even images to put your search context together. Quite easily semantic search understands that you are looking for a weather forecast and will pull up the most related and trusted service such as your local weather channel. In the old days, you would have received the web page with the most keywords including snow conditions, which may or may not have given you your local weather.
Go ahead and type in snow in your browser and see what happens.
When you go to the bottom you will see alternate “Related Searches” such as
Snow Day Calendar
Snow Red Hot Chili Peppers
That is Semantic Search in action.
What This Means For Marketers
I believe this means will we start seeing a rise in long tailed searches. (To learn about long tailed searches please read long-tailed-searches) This is because Google wants to understand the phrase as opposed to the individual words to get to the contextual meaning.
Google is paying more attention to the context of the phrase and the website theme as a whole and where all the information relates together. This means entire themes are more important than individual web pages and key words. Web marketers need to focus on building a well designed website theme.
Just like humans, Google will better understand the contextual meaning when individual words have several meanings. And, this contextual interpretation is more important to Google.