The Semantic Web Becomes Reality

Over the last few years search engines shifted from text matching to semantically relevant search results. Google’s Hummingbird release in particular was a push toward semantic search. The goal is to understand the intent of the search query. What is the user really looking for at this moment?

To make it easier to understand the meaning behind content, Google suggests using semantic markup. This produces rich snippets of content in a search result, e.g. people, places, reviews, business, events, etc. See the MicroData format at Google’s Webmaster site. Being able to see an image, ratings and reviews at a quick glance, without having to click through or read lengthy sentences, is a big improvement in user experience. It does not necessarily matter if the search rank is going up: as long as a rich content listing stands out from the rest of the SERPs, users are more likely to click through and convert.

Since semantic markup has become an important SEO strategy, it must also be important for SEM and Social. Dan Newman says the same in The Future of Marketing Is Semantic, Conversational and Social without going into details.

Bottom line: now that search engines have more semantic capabilities, our owned, paid, and earned channels have to follow the trend in order to stay competitive.

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The Strategy of Google+

Google offers users and companies who set up a Google+ page, build circles, and post content a boost in SEO results. For instance a search for ‘Mexican Food’ in my neighborhood returns a special inset (in black) with local businesses which sell Mexican food. These special results are before anything else.

Mexican Food Search

SERP with local business results

A Google+ page allows you to gather your followers, broadcast messages and such. While content was once the most important factor in SEO, Google wants more and more access to your social graph. That is to custom taylor your search results to your interests.

The leaders in Social networking, Facebook and Twitter, only share data with Microsoft Bing which also individualizes search results with input from social data. Although Google is by far the number one search engine in the US and the world, Bing has been gaining market share in the US (19%) recently faster than Google.

A more elaborate discussion by Ricardo Carreira is hereĀ 

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