According to a recent article published in The Telegraph, Google is about to undergo some major changes to its search policy.
The Telegraph’s digital media editor, Emma Barnett, reports that:
“Instead of surfacing a list of blue web links, the new Google search engine, will also present more facts and direct answers to search queries at the top of the results page…by employing ‘semantic search technology’… which will see more answers, rather than just web links, surface on each search results page.”
The headlines may sound dramatic, but I don’t believe this story is really anything new. The move away from highly keyword optimised website copy towards ranking for more naturally relevant content and socially-driven link building has been happening for a while now, as search engines refine their techniques to offer better search results for customers. Rather, it is a very loud wake up call to businesses that should really have been doing this for months.
The debate has resurfaced due to an alleged ‘slip’ by Google’s Matt Cutts at a recent SXSW conference about plans for Google to penalise organisations that are over optimising on certain keywords and phrases.
Again, while Google’s aim to move towards naturally relevant content idea isn’t anything new, Matt’s comments were the first indication that Google would actually actively frown upon keyword optimisation over natural optimisation of relevant content.
So, what is Semantic Search Technology?
Semantic search technology is a method of tagging or encoding content down to a very specific level. One of the best examples is Google Recipe Search, which involves marking up recipes for ingredients, cooking time and calories. The end result means that you can find recipes that meet very specific requirements – for example a low calorie recipe involving chicken cooked with basil that takes less than 30 minutes to prepare. By tagging web pages with each of these individual schema, the search results can be much more tailored than those found by standard search engines crawlers. [Join the lively foodie’s debate about Google Recipe Search here]. Other good examples are Social Video Schema and Google Search, plus Your World.
Google recommending new video schema org markup
If you can’t see the video click here
Have a look at Schema.org for more details about this coding system. It is an important aspect of SEO that web businesses should embrace in order that they don’t miss out on an easily controllable way of improving rankings. And it doesn’t just work for Google. Bing, Yahoo and others have all signed up to this system of tagging and encoding content.
So how should businesses respond? My advice to clients who want to stay ahead of the SEO game remains the same:
- Provide interesting and relevant web content
- Ensure content is regularly updated
- Promote sharing and share links and content
- Make sure you have set up a Google+ account (and regularly use it)
- Fully embrace social schema and use Schema on your contact page
As I’ve always said, SEO should always be more about relevant, social and interesting content. This entire story in my mind was clarified by Richard Robinson’s recent seminar at the Yorkshire Mafia’s 2012 conference last week (amazing event). Where Richard made it clear we need to focus on 3 things, Video, Social and Mobile! Telegraph, this is nothing new, this is Google trying to get us on Google Plus and I’ve been saying this for months (G+ and mobile!), and whether we like it or not, if you don’t you will be left behind!
I am really interested to hear other people’s views on this one, please comment below! Or tweet me about it!
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