On March 15, 2012, Google officially announced (via the Wall Street Journal), what hardcore SEOs have been expecting since at least 2008. Google is introducing semantic search into its algorithm.
What exactly is semantic search? It’s a technology that lets the search engine “understand” what each search query means. So, rather than simply matching the keywords typed into the search box to the keywords on a web page and in links pointed to the page, semantic search also will return results based on related ideas and concepts.
At the core of semantic search are synonyms. One example made in the Wall Street Journal (WSJ) article is that of conducting a search for the term “Google.” In addition to the Home page of the search engine and information about it specifically, a semantic engine might also return results about Larry Page and Sergey Brin (founders of Google).
I actually explained this in a previous article many years ago. Take a look at this snippet:
#1 – Shows Relevancy – If you know anything about search engine optimization (SEO), you know Google lives and dies for relevancy. That’s their calling card. The use of synonyms helps your copy show more relevancy because it narrows down the topic of your web page.
For example, if someone started out with a primary keyword of “seniors,” Google would have a difficult time determining what the page was about. However, after adding some copy that discussed “retirement,” “Social Security” and used synonyms including “elderly,” “golden ager” or “aged,” Google can see that you mean older folks.
On the other hand, by incorporating synonyms and complimentary terms such as “graduation,” “graduate” or “high school,” you change the inherent theme of the page from old people to those about 18 years of age who have completed high school.
#2 – Helps Semantic Engines – The same applies to up-and-coming semantic engines. As this technology continues to develop, copywriters will need to pay closer attention to synonyms and other complimentary words because they will greatly influence how a semantic engine perceives your text.
Make use of your thesaurus. Each time you write a page of copy, toss in a few synonyms that relate to your primary subject. You’ll be helping both your client and the search engines get better results.
But, from the WSJ article, it sounded as though more than synonyms would be needed to retain your rankings with the new semantic Google. The reporter states:
Google says it is still tinkering with the new look and function of its search engine, so it’s unclear exactly what this might mean for Google users and website owners. But the move could spur millions of websites to retool their Web page—by changing what’s called a “markup language”—so the search engine could more easily locate them under the new system, said Larry Cornett, a former Web-search executive at Yahoo Inc.
I’m wondering if this is in relation to the Common Tag Yahoo! promoted so hard about three years ago. There’s no way to find out until Google actually puts the new update into play. The WSJ states this should happen “over the next few months.” Should be interesting (to say the least!) to watch.
If this goes the way I’m thinking it will (and it’s WAY too early to tell), the role of copywriting will become even more important in getting good rankings. But be careful. Google also announced recently that it is implementing an “over optimization penalty” designed to “give sites that have great content a better shot at ranking above sites that have content that is not as great but do a better job with SEO.”
Why do I have a feeling the SEO world is about to be turned on its head?
Need additional help with writing professional-level copy that ranks high and converts? Check out my Step-by-Step Copywriting Course and see why this approach works so much better.
(c) Karon Thackston 2012, All Rights Reserved