In the battle against spam, search engines have adopted the semantic web. It’s an attempt to make search results more personal and as close as possible to what the search user truly wanted or intended when they made their search queries. It’s not about keywords and rankings anymore. Rather, giving each user a unique search result that is personalized according to their search needs.
But on September 26, 2013, Google made its largest change to their search algorithm with the release of Hummingbird, an evolution of Google’s search engine toward semantic search. These changes and upcoming semantic filters will prevent spammers from faking out and gaming the search system this time — finally.
So, how will businesses benefit from semantic search?
For one thing, semantic search will return search results that are more natural, conversational, reliable and trustworthy. If your business could provide the best answer to what your targeted customer needs, then your content and your website will rank high in search results. This, however, will depend on several factors as well as signals that include your online reputation, social relationships you have with online users, and the recommendations people provide about your brands, products and services.
How to prepare your business for semantic search
If your business is struggling with your digital marketing strategies, then learning more about Semantic Web Optimization will prepare you for what’s coming in the search landscape. So, how can you prepare your business for this game-changing trend of search marketing? Read on and learn more.
1. Assess if Your Business Has Enough Experience and Expertise in Your Field
Nielsen Report’s “Global Trust in Advertising and Brand Messages” highlighted that up to 92% of online users will rely on what people close to them say before they trust a particular brand, product or service. This level of trust in a particular business can only be developed if that business has enough experience and expertise in their particular field. If you want your business to fare well in the brave new world of the Semantic Web, then you need to make an assessment about your company’s online reputation.
If your business has enough experience and expertise in your particular field, then you’re in a position to create more business credibility and establish a stronger brand awareness among your targeted audiences. These attributes are all crucial in establishing a strong presence for your business in the Semantic Web. However, if your business has the expertise but still lacks the years to account for a strong online presence, you can compensate with a strong social media presence and great content — which you can learn more about in the following.
2. Your Team Should Know the Importance of Content Marketing
Content is king and will continue to be so in the world of Semantic Web. Your team should know the importance of content marketing and how it should be at the core of your digital marketing campaign. 68 percent of respondents in a survey conducted by Unisphere Research will focus on content marketing to engage their targeted customers more effectively.
It would be to your greatest advantage if you have a dedicated team to create all the appropriate materials you need to conduct your content marketing. This includes the creation of articles, graphics, infographics, audio, video and other content forms that you can use for marketing. You need to create custom content that can answer the inquiries and needs of your targeted audiences. You should also create content — linkable assets — which website owners can link to. These will matter well in how your websites will rank in semantic search results. The following are tips on how you can create such linkable assets:
- TOOLS that Targeted Customers can use — Apps, software, utilities and other tools that are useful for their needs will be worth linking too for people who will find these things important.
- ACTIVITIES that Targeted Customers can participate in — Events, contests, polls, quizzes, comment boxes, video sharing, and other activities your targeted online community can actively join and participate in.
- VIDEOS that Targeted Customers can use — Videos can be much more effective than plain lines and columns of text in conveying your message to targeted customers. These materials can really get viral and be linked to if people find them very useful.
- INFORMATION on Top Influencesthat Targeted Customers find interesting — People are really interested in Top 10 lists, quotes list, contributions list, or interviews with influential people in your targeted niche.
3. Your Business Should Have an Active Social Media Presence
An eMarketer report established social media marketing as the second-best digital marketing channel after a businesses’ main website. Social media presence will also be a very important factor in how a business will fare well in semantic search. Businesses that have incorporated social media marketing in their channels and are actively interacting with people in social conversations in these network will matter highly to Google in an era of the Semantic Web.
4. Properly Using the Semantic Mark-Up
To make it easier for semantic search engines to index your content and for web crawlers to match your content exactly with what search users are looking for, you need to label your content with semantic mark-up as defined by Schema.org. This platform and initiative was born out of a collaboration by Google, Bing and Yahoo to create new sets of HTML terms. These are intended to improve the markup of web pages to make them better for semantic search — focusing not only on terms and keywords but on what the meaning of the words in these pages are trying to convey.
Marking your content according to the guidelines established by Schema.org allows search engines get direct access to your website’s structured data, making them understand the information these pages are trying to convey much more effectively. With this understanding, they can easily and more accurately match your content to search queries. The more content you markup, the more information search engines can index from your website for showing up in applicable search results.
However, you should only markup content on pages that you want to be visible to online users. You can label your content with markup that would be relevant to your targeted customers like semantic markup for business hours, business locations, product locations and product prizes. You can refer to documentations from Schema.org to learn more on how you can integrate semantic markup with your content.
5. List Your Products in the Semantic Web
If your business is engaged in e-commerce or you have items that you will be trading online, it would be to your greatest advantage to have your business registered with an international authority and your products listed in the Semantic Web by getting Global Trade Item Numbers (GTIN) for your products. These numbers act as identifiers that will be used to identify a particular product in a database. GTINs make use of four-numbered code structures in 8, 12, 13 or 14 digits that corresponds to bar codes that can be used with your products.
6. Submit Your Website to the Semantic Web
Once you have your content properly marked up with semantic microdata and other semantic markup forms and structure like microformats, RDF and RDFa. After content has been labeled by semantic markup and verified by humans for accuracy, the next step is to submit your information to a semantic web database platform like DBpedia and Sindice to make your information easily available and accessible to your targeted audiences.
7. Centralize Your Online Footprint with Google+
After your content is marked up semantically and submitted to the semantic web, you need to centralize your online presence and footprint so you can boost your visibility in the search engine network. The best channel to do this now is through Google+. Basically for the main reason that Google+ posts are indexed by Google searches. With Google+ your online presence gets discovered not only by users of a particular social media network, but the whole Internet as well.
You can start by optimizing the content you will be putting up in your Google+ profile for semantic search. This include text, photos and other content that you will include in your Posts stream and About tab. With Google+, you can also establish your Authorship which will make your content factor higher in semantic search results.
8. Optimize Your Website for Conversion
After you have completed optimizing your content for the Semantic Web, the next step is to focus your website for conversion rate optimization. Labeling your content with semantic markup and optimizing your website for semantic search will not do your business any good if visits from targeted customers will not result to conversions. High conversion rates will also put your website in high standing with semantic search engines, making them prioritize the recommendation of your sites to related search queries.
Search is a continuously evolving and changing entity, and the advent of the Semantic Web puts the importance of personalization and relevance to search that will serve the online consumer much, much better. Businesses should quickly adapt to this rapidly changing marketing environment and prepare themselves in this evolution in search technologies. It will define the future of the Internet in the very near future.
Photo credit: Can Stock Photo
Author bio: Jomer Gregorio is a professional SEO and digital marketer. He owns Digital Marketing Philippines, a start-up digital marketing company from Philippines. His company caters to the needs of small-medium and enterprise clients all over the world. Connect with Jomer now on Twitter and LinkedIn.