Connected Content: How to optimize for semantic search

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SEO is changing, and there is a growing focus on semantics. Here are tips for how to optimize your website for Google's Hummingbird algo.

Hi, I’m Lori Kirk, Brafton’s Manager of Content Marketing with Brafton’s first Connected Content. Last year, Google announced the new Hummingbird algorithm and it took away most of our keyword data. It seems as if the two are related and that they indicate what’s to come with semantic search. Play the video below or read on for the full transcript!

 

Google has been developing better algorithms that understand the context of searches – what we mean when we type in words and what answers we’re hoping to get. It might be easier to understand this if you think about how a brain works. Everything is interwoven, but there are relationships and connections that make information retrieval almost instantaneous.

Here are three ways to begin making your content friendly to the semantic web:

First: Answer questions with your content

One of the hallmarks of semantic search is that it looks for contextual cues. When Googlebots crawl your organic content, they’re not just scanning for keywords. They want to understand the big picture of what’s there – the purpose of the content – so it can identify results that actually answer users’ questions.

In the semantic web, publishers need to answer users' questions with their custom content.

A good place to start is to think about how you can answer customers’ frequently asked questions with your blog content. If you can’t come up with very many, ask your sales department what prospects ask throughout the decision-making process, and tackle these topics first.

Also consider what questions people might ask that would lead them to your products and services if they didn’t know what exactly it was called. They may ask Google to find “Ways to prevent wage theft” and receive answers from companies that sell payroll processing software.

Second: Get active on social media

When you have an archive of answers, you want to share them with people you know are interested. There’s compelling evidence that the most socially active companies will do better in semantic search. Right now, this may only apply to Google+ because it’s the search engine’s network, but it might one-day expand to Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook.

Google wants to connect internet users to brands that are active online, interacting with people and starting conversations. It’s the digital way to make sure consumers can spot companies with the best word-of-mouth reviews.

Third: Overshare information with GoogleMarketers may need to add Schema Markup to their pages to improve rankings in search results.

The search engine is also on a mission to give users what they see in results pages, so it’s asking companies to label their content with Schema.org markup. This code tells crawlers exactly what they’re looking at, whether a visual element is a picture or video and if text is referring to a product review or a recipe. The semantic markup you might be most familiar with is Authorship.

At the end of the day, the more information you provide, the easier it is for Google to index your brand content and make sure it shows up in search results.

I hope this straightforward, value-focused approach helps you hold onto your search results no matter what tricks Google has up it’s sleeve or how search evolves in the future.

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Lori is a content marketer, entrepreneur and musician living in Boston, MA. After receiving her BA from Umass Lowell and MA from Emerson College, Lori has worked in both in-house and agency settings and is thrilled to be a member of the Brafton Account Management team.
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  • Lori

    Thanks Sitegain-

    Thank you for your comment! I completely agree that content can and SHOULD be available in a variety of formats so I’m thrilled you found my tips helpful in video format. I also find schema markup conversations fascinating and am really excited to see how it evolves. The way that I look at is if there is anything that will help me enhance search results by letting Google know my clients’ products, prices, shipping times, etc. then I’m going to do it and reinforce it with great content!

    Thanks again!

    Lori