Once upon a time, keywords were the Holy Grail for achieving page rank within Google searches. If a user searched for “Moonstruck Marketing”, Google didn’t know if the user was searching for a website, a person, or something else. The ‘bots would simply scan words and letters to statistically analyze the search the way it occurred in a certain order on the web page – the page title, the page URL, etc. – and Google would return the top 10 links matching the user’s search, with number 1 being the best match, and so on.

What was missing from this type of analysis was the human element.

Enter semantic search, a more sophisticated technology that determines, not just the order of words and letters, but the intent behind the searcher’s query.

With semantic search, results are more accurate, and search engine aptitude can be expanded to include technologies like voice search, for which traditional SEO would be quite ineffective.

Those Busy ‘Bots

Search engine ‘bots never sleep. Constantly crawling the web for content, they are now charged with comprehending users’ queries and matching them with the correct intent, ensuring the right answer is returned to the user. Search for pizza at 7 am, and Google understands you’re not looking to order pizza, but perhaps thinking about where to go for pizza later in the day. Search for pizza at 7 pm, and the results return specific restaurants in your locale.

As the technology evolves, it may even remember your favorite searches so that, 10 weeks later, when you’ve forgotten the name of that “pizza restaurant on 10th street”, it can recall your previous search.

What This Means for Business Owners

Millions of people use the internet daily to find answers. This means creating a ton of fresh content daily. Content creators are scrambling to adapt to semantic search needs along with other algorithm changes set forth by Google’s Hummingbird update. Writers need to use structured data and linked open data to ensure crawling ‘bots find their content clear and concise.

The businesses served by content creators must focus on developing content that reaches consumers using semantic search principles, as opposed to the old method of keyword density. Additionally, the content must engage users through social media and blogs written by recognized authors (i.e., Google Authorship) if they hope for their content to be measured as authoritative. In other words, businesses can no longer slap meaningless content onto their web sites and hope no one notices. Search can no longer be “gamed” or, at the least, getting top Google page rank will require far more effort. They must avoid outdated SEO practices and uncover the true meaning of their advertising campaigns, which must include both relevance and context.